Through the first two games of the regular season, the Pittsburgh Pirates offense was about as stagnate as it could have been through 18 innings of baseball. In their third game of the season though, that all changed, at least for one game.
The Pirates fell behind early as Bryse Wilson struggled out of the gate by allowing three runs in the first inning with two coming off of the bat of Nolan Arenado, who has played phenomenal against the Pirates in this series with two home runs thus far in 2022.
Even after the dismal start, Wilson settled in, pitching four innings and not allowing another run after that first inning.
The big blow to the Cardinals lead came in the third inning after the Pirates loaded the bases from three straight singles that would lead to a Michael Chavis grand slam, his second of his career and his first home run as a Pittsburgh Pirate. The grand slam was the first time the Pirates first home run as a team was a grand slam since Pedro Alvarez in 2016.
That wouldn’t be it for Chavis either, who got the start at first base and finished with a 3/4 day with a single, double and a walk to his credit as well. The rest of the offense chipped in as well, pitching in 15 combined hits with five players having multi-hit afternoons from top to bottom in the lineup.
The Pirates bullpen did its job as well in relief of Wilson as Miguel Yajure would make his 2022 debut and had two scoreless innings and a strikeout to his credit on 34 pitches, 19 of which were strikes. Heath Hembree would follow that up by pounding the zone with nine of his 13 pitches being strikes, but that would result in him allowing a run to Dylan Carlson on a sacrifice fly.
One of my biggest takeaways from this game and what we’ve seen from the Pirates through the first three games has been the play of Wil Crowe out of the pen. Crowe had two scoreless innings of work in this outing with two strikeouts on 27 pitches, but his command, velocity and overall his demeanor seems to be much more confident in this role and he has shown that on the stat sheet with 4 IP, 5 Ks and only 2 BB.
Some other bright spots in this game have to be credited to the defense the Pirates showed this game, particularly from Ke’Bryan Hayes and Kevin Newman, who both had some stellar defensive players on the left side of the infield and contributed to the offensive onslaught as well three combined hits and two RBIs between the third basemen and shortstop.
Diego Castillo followed suit with the offense as well, becoming only the third Pirates player in the modern era(since 1901), to have three hits in their first start. Castillo flashes his defensive ability a few times as well at second base and I would expect to see much more of Castillo at second base for the near future, but the revolving door at the position with Castillo, Park and VanMeter will likely continue through the early part of the season.
The Pirates and Cardinals will wrap up their opening series of 2022 tomorrow as Zach Thompson will makes his Pirates debut facing Dakota Hudson for the Cardinals. Pittsburgh will look to split the series and get back to .500 baseball before heading home to face the Chicago Cubs in their home opener on Tuesday.