The Yankees secured their second consecutive series win on Saturday, defeating the Pirates 6-3 in the middle game of this series at PNC Park. They now sit at three games above .500 and are 5-1 in their last six games. Since scuffling for much of the summer, they are now also 5-1 in their last six series.
All systems were go from the jump for the Yankees offense. They took full advantage of starter Luis L. Ortiz’s wildness — to start things off, DJ LeMahieu and Gleyber Torres worked walks, and then Austin Wells scored LeMahieu with a line-drive double up against the center field wall. Giancarlo Stanton passed the baton with a walk to load the bases, but Anthony Volpe popped up and failed to get the runner in with one out. (It was another rough day for Volpe, although he’d salvage a ninth-inning single.) Estevan Florial picked Volpe up in the first, though, with a two-run single to score Wells and Torres.
Recent waiver claim Luke Weaver took the mound with a cushy three-run lead to work with immediately. But he walked the leadoff hitter Ji Hwan Bae, and then 2021 All-Star Bryan Reynolds left the ballpark to dead center to pull the Pirates within one. Weaver escaped the inning without further damage and even ended up striking out the side.
The Yankees had more ducks on the pond in the second inning, including another LeMahieu hit, but couldn’t bring him around to score. After a leadoff double in the home second foreshadowed more runs for the Buccos, Weaver found his grove and worked a scoreless frame. The 30-year-old ultimately struck out seven and made it through four innings of three-run ball (a manufactured run in the third from a Ke’Bryan Hayes double was the other). It wasn’t award-winning work by any stretch, but acceptable since the doubleheaders this week accelerated the need for another starter.
The scuffling Stanton got ahold of one with authority in the top of the third to give New York another run with his 402nd career long ball:
The Yankees threatened in the fifth, though, thanks to a Florial walk and a Peraza single, after which the Pirates turned to Hunter Stratton in a jam with men on the corners. He induced an Oswaldo Cabrera flyout to escape unscathed.
Jhony Brito entered for the fifth in relief of Weaver. His appearances out of the bullpen have gone much better than his starts did overall, and Malachi detailed just the other day how effective the righty can be out there. Brito worked an efficient fifth inning, using his fastball and changeup to notch a strikeout of the dangerous Reynolds.
Stratton ran into immediate trouble when he returned for the sixth. Aaron Judge walked and Torres continued his hot second half, shooting the gap for a double and sending Judge to third. Judge scored on a wild pitch — the Pirates continue to gift the Yankees runs in this series. They couldn’t cash in beyond that, though, keeping the score at 5-3.
Brito continued to dazzle the Buccos on the other side, as they couldn’t touch him in his final two frames, either. He had all three pitches working in his three perfect innings, flashing his signature changeup but also a much improved breaking ball. In his nine appearances out of the bullpen, he boasts an ERA of 1.24.
Thomas Hatch took the mound in the top of the eighth and the Yankees once again touched him up, this time thanks to a Cabrera moonshot. The home run extended his hitting streak to six games — a return to regular playing time has him swinging it like he did in 2022.
Ian Hamilton, activated from the IL today, got his first chance since August 30th and retired the Pirates in order in the eighth. Clay Holmes locked up the save no problem, his 21st of the year.
The Yankees have a chance to sweep the Pirates tomorrow behind Carlos Rodón in the final game of the road trip before the Blue Jays come to Yankee Stadium. First pitch is at 1:35 EDT.