Through the opening three weeks of the MLB season, the Pittsburgh Pirates offense has been very hit or miss.
There was a lot more of the former than the latter Thursday night at PNC Park, as the Bucs blasted four home runs in an 11-2 slamming of the Milwaukee Brewers that broke a two-game losing streak.
On a night that saw Andrew McCutchen hit his first homer of the season and Pedro Alvarez launch his team-leading sixth, it was Josh Harrison of all people who had the most significant round-tripper. Harrison popped a two-run tiebreaking dinger as a pinch hitter in the seventh inning, putting the Pirates (8-8) into the lead for good.
Gaby Sanchez added a solo bomb to trigger a six-run eighth against the Milwaukee bullpen, which was highlighted by Alvarez’ opposite-field three-run shot. The Bucs have hit 23 homers in 16 games, the second-most in the big leagues behind only the Angels, who had 24 entering the night.
The 12-hit bombardment of the first-place Brewers (11-5) must’ve felt especially satisfying for Pittsburgh, which dropped all three games in Milwaukee last weekend. The Pirates’ power might have hit an apex Monday with six bombs in a win over the Reds, but the four homers Thursday accounted for eight of their 12 runs.
McCutchen, who is usually a slow starter in the longball department, sent a two-run homer over the center-field wall in the first inning against Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo. That countered Aramis Ramirez‘ RBI single in the top of the frame.
Jonathan Lucroy knotted the game at 2 in the third with a run-scoring hit of his own, which is where the score held until the seventh. Pirates starter Edinson Volquez limited the hot-swinging Brewers to seven singles and a double over seven efficient innings. The offseason signing threw just 77 pitches in his longest outing of the young season.
Pittsburgh greeted Milwaukee reliever Rob Wooten with a Jordy Mercer single prior to Harrison’s big rip. McCutchen drove in Starling Marte with a fielder’s choice grounder for the Pirates’ fifth run, bringing on former Bucs starter Zach Duke from the Brewers bullpen.
Duke escaped further damage, but one-time Pirates prospect Wei Chung Wang allowed six of nine batters to reach in the eighth. Sanchez (homer), Jose Tabata (double) and Russell Martin (single) each drove in single runs against the youngster before Alvarez added the coup de grace.