On a night defined by the symphony of the bat meet ball, the Pirates tied their franchise record of seven home runs, emphatically defeating the Mariners 11-6 at T-Mobile Park in an arguably classic performance.
“It was a great day, for everyone to show up and play like they did,” said Suwinski, fresh off his third career multi-homer game. “This is a little bit of what we saw at the beginning of the year. It just shows that we are a good baseball team. We can play at a very good level if we all play together, play for each other.”
Friday’s fireworks, an offensive display to coincide with T-Mobile Park’s literal post-game fireworks display, marked the third time since 1901 that the Pirates hit seven home runs in one game, the other times being August 20, 2003 and August 20, 2003. October 16, 1947, both against the Cardinals. According to team historian Jim Trdinich, the Pirates also had seven home runs on June 6, 1894 against Boston.
McCutchen started the concert by setting the tone with a towering home run over the left field fence to put the Pirates ahead 1–0. With two hits on Friday, the other being a single, McCutchen is now 10 hits away from a career-high 2,000.
Santana, whose leadership played an invaluable role in the Mariners breaking their two-decade playoff drought last season, hooked a solo shot over the right field fence, his first home run since April 7.
Suwinski and Hayes went back-to-back in the fifth inning, heading a five-run frame that helped break open the game. As George Kirby walked down the mound after Hayes’ homer, a chorus of “Let’s Go Bucs!” chants from behind the third base dugout temporarily turned T-Mobile Park into PNC Park West.
Suwinski was part of another multi-homer frame as he and Marcano left the building in the seventh inning with a ballad of bombs. In the eighth, Reynolds capped off the harmony of homers with the most aesthetically awesome home run of the night, a 400-foot moonshot that clattered against the windows of the Hit It Here Cafe.
“At that point some of us were just laughing at each other just because the game plan we had wasn’t to beat the whole game like we did,” Suwinski said.
Mitch Keller added: “(We were) sort of looking around like, ‘Who’s next? Who’s next?’ It’s fun. It’s a lot of fun. Especially going back to back. Special night for the offense. I couldn’t be happier for all those guys.”
Four of the Pirates’ seven home runs came against Kirby, a particularly impressive feat given Kirby’s adeptness at controlling the long ball. Entering the game, Kirby had only allowed three home runs all season; the only pitchers this year to have allowed three home runs or less are Hunter Brown (3), Nathan Eovaldi (3), Zac Gallen (2), Justin Steele (2), and Sonny Gray (0). In addition, Kirby’s 0.46 HR/9 ranked fifth among starting pitchers.
“He’s a really good pitcher,” Reynolds said. “I am proud of the way we came in with a good approach and we have maintained that. We were prepared. (Four) homers off someone is impressive, but the fact that we can do that off a pitcher like him is really good.
Pittsburgh’s offensive flurry was needed on a night when, for the first time in weeks, Keller was without his cards. Keller allowed a season-high six earned runs in six-plus innings, his ERA ballooning from 2.44 to 3.01 by the end of the night. The right-hander, who walked two batters, gave up two home runs and struckout eight, said he wasn’t sharp, adding that he plans to fast-forward this performance and move on.
There have been several times this season when Keller seemed to have worn the Pirates, whether it was his full game or 13 strikeouts. On this night the attack had its back, and it did so in a grand way.