Heading into the last week of June, a look at the Pittsburgh Pirates and Miami Marlins offers one of the starkest contrasts across baseball when it comes to fortunes and trajectories.
While one club has warmed up enough to climb near the top of its division and appears to be in overall solid form, the other has continued to sink to lower depths as a promising start grew increasingly weak. no longer a thing of the past.
Pirates fans should have no problem deducing what describes their team.
That said, the Pirates managed to stop the bleeding, at least temporarily, on Friday in Miami, beating the Marlins, 3-1, by way of a ninth-inning rally, which ended a 10-game losing streak. .
After the Marlins won Thursday’s game with a five-run eighth inning, it was the Pirates who returned the favor on Friday, scoring three ninth-inning runs against Miami closer to AJ Puk.
With his team trailing 1-0 in the top of the ninth, Josh Palacios hit for Austin Hedges and got on board with a single to left field, overcoming an 0-2 count.
“I was in battle mode, trying to take the ball the other way,” Palacios said on 93.7 FM’s post-match show.
With one out, Andrew McCutchen knocked out a third-base line dribbler for a single, putting the runners up first and second.
Then, with Connor Joe at the plate, Palacios and McCutchen double-stealed.
Joe then hit shortstop Joey Wendle with a yank, which allowed Palacios, who had broken to go home on contact, to head home, tying the score.
At the plate came Carlos Santana, who then ripped a single to center field, scoring McCutchen for what turned out to be the game-winning run, giving the Pirates a 2-1 lead.
Luis Ortiz delivered his best start to the season, pitching eight one-run innings, allowing seven hits on two walks while striking out five. Ortiz (2-3, 3.74 ERA) picked up the win.
“He was awesome,” Carlos Santana said of Ortiz on the Apple TV+ postgame show. “He has good equipment. He has a very good command of the fastball, the slider and some left-handed changes.
“So him tonight, he’s aggressive, he attacks early… and that’s why he was great tonight.”
The Pirates’ ninth-inning offensive output of five hits far exceeded the two they had through the first eight innings.
Before it was over, Henry Davis had also scored a single, followed by pinch hitter Tucupita Marcano, whose hit tagged Santana for an insurance run.
David Bednar took the mound late in the ninth, which closed the door for the Marlins to earn their 15th save of the year.
Marlins starter Jesus Luzardo kept the Pirates (35-40) guessing throughout his start, allowing two baserunners to go seven innings.
Luzardo stayed to start the eighth but was fired by Miami manager Skip Schumaker after allowing Davis an early walk.
Davis stole second base and advanced to third on a Nick Gonzales groundout, making his MLB debut on Friday.
But Marlins reliever Tanner Scott retired Ji Hwan Bae to end the inning, snuffing out the Pirates’ most promising opportunity at this point.
The Marlins quickly got to work offensively, racking up three singles late in the first inning against Ortiz and scoring the first run of the game when a Jesus Sanchez hit tackled Luis Arraez.
Arraez finished the game with three hits, increasing his MLB best batting average to .402.
Ortiz managed to calm down after the first, allowing four hits over the next seven innings.
Gonzales was 0 for 3 with two strikeouts in his major league debut.
Davis, playing in career MLB Game 5, produced his first multi-hit night, going 2-for-3 with a walk.
For the first time since June 11, the Pirates win.
While there is still work to be done to reverse a still-fresh bad patch, the Pirates can breathe a sigh of relief with a pair of games remaining in their series against Miami.
“Winning a game like we won today, coming back from behind, battling, guys batting, I think it’s a huge confidence boost for the boys,” Palacios said.
Justin Guerriero is a staff writer for Tribune-Review. You can contact Justin by email at email@example.com or via Twitter .