PITTSBURGH — When the Pirates reported to Bradenton, Fla., back in February, Jack Suwinski was a well-regarded prospect new to the 40-man roster — but still seemingly a year or so away. Josh VanMeter played for the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Pirates didn’t acquire him until the end of spring.
Should the offense require a jolt — and most assumed it would — well, let’s just say there were others ahead of them on the depth chart.
Yet with Pittsburgh’s offense stuck in neutral for an extended stretch while the Pirates hoped to secure a series victory over the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday, it was Suwinski and VanMeter who delivered the two biggest swings, their three-run home runs helping to produce a 10-5 victory at PNC Park.
Suwinski brought the game to a 5-5 tie with his fifth long ball of the season, the outfielder clobbering a low-and-inside fastball to win a nine-pitch battle. When Suwinski homered recently at Wrigley Field, in his hometown, he won an eight-pitch at-bat.
It was the fifth home run of the season for Suwinski, who was recalled on April 26 from Class AA Altoona. Among Pirates, only Daniel Vogelbach has more, as Suwinski continues to impress in a variety of ways.
VanMeter has certainly come under fire because his lineup spot could easily be used on a prospect. In 28 games before Wednesday, VanMeter had a .195 average and .582 OPS. After picking up two hits on Monday, VanMeter put a big exclamation point on the series with his home run.
Facing Rockies pitcher Justin Lawrence in the seventh with the Pirates trying to build on a 6-5 lead, VanMeter connected on a slider and also pulled one into the right-field seats, landing a couple sections toward center when compared to Suwinski’s homer.
Lawrence squatted and showed his frustration. Fans here cheered. And the Pirates closed it out by turning to Wil Crowe and Yerry De Los Santos, who helped them improve to 18-25 ahead of a six-game trip out west.
The latter, of course, made his MLB debut as part of a recent run of prospects getting a chance. De Los Santos handled the ninth. Promoted a day earlier, Cal Mitchell collected a pair of hits and knocked in the Pirates’ 10th run with a double in the eighth inning.
Just 3 for 29 before Wednesday, Ben Gamel — not a prospect but certainly a valuable part of the team — went 2 for 4 with a pair of RBI singles, as the Pirates scored five or more runs for the first time since May 11.