The Pittsburgh Pirates have a couple All-Stars, Adam Frazier and Bryan Reynolds, but in a rebuilding year, they need some help from lesser names. Guys such as Ben Gamel and John Nogowski.
Those two gave the visiting Atlanta Braves fits Monday as Pittsburgh won 11-1 in the opener of a three-game series. Gamel homered twice and had a career-best six RBIs, and Nogowski, in his Pirates debut, went 2-for-4 with an RBI single, a walk and three runs.
Gamel, playing in an undermanned outfield, has four homers over the past five games. Nogowski played first base with Colin Moran and Erik Gonzalez hurt.
“It’s great to put some runs across the plate,” Gamel told AT&T Sportsnet regarding the Pirates, who had 10 runs total in their seven most recent games before Monday.
“Definitely something to build off of,” Nogowski said.
Gamel and Nogowski weren’t event glints in Pirates general manager Ben Cherington’s eye when the season started. Gamel was picked up in May when the Cleveland Indians designated him for assignment, and Nogowski was picked up off waivers on Saturday from the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Braves missed a chance to reach .500 for the first time since June 8 and now will have to win the final two games of the series to do that.
Atlanta also squandered a shot to claim the season series. The Braves were 3-1 against Pittsburgh before Monday, prevailing by a combined 33-3 in the three wins.
“It would be nice to bounce back (Tuesday) … and come back and win a game and, hopefully, end up the road trip pretty good,” said Braves manager Brian Snitker, whose team heads to Miami for three games starting Friday.
On Tuesday, Atlanta right-hander Ian Anderson (5-4, 3.35 ERA) is scheduled to start against Pittsburgh right-hander Chad Kuhl (2-5, 5.16 ERA).
Kuhl gave up three runs and five hits in 4 1/3 innings Wednesday in a loss at Colorado. He issued three walks and struck out six.
Kuhl and Pittsburgh took a 2-1 lead into the fifth, but a walk, an RBI double, a hit batter and a wild pitch ended his day. He said a blister on his pitching hand, which rose when he gave up a homer in the fourth, “broke off” in the fifth and left him with “a raw chunk of skin.”
“It was just unfortunate timing,” Kuhl said. “It wasn’t like it was the last pitch of the inning, where you can go and put some New-Skin on there. This one was kind of in the middle of the inning.”
With the blister presumably under control, Kuhl won’t miss a turn.
Kuhl’s only career appearance against Atlanta was a start and win on April 8, 2017. He gave up three runs, two of them earned, and five hits in five innings.
Anderson’s only career appearance against Pittsburgh was a strong home start. It came May 21 when he pitched six scoreless innings, allowing six hits with no walks and six strikeouts in a 20-1 win.
Anderson also was effective in his most recent outing, though he ended up with a no-decision. He pitched seven innings Thursday against the New York Mets, giving up two runs and three hits with two walks and two strikeouts.
–Field Level Media