Walk-off hit saves Pirates from blowing masterful Bryse Wilson start

Mike Persak, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on

Published in Baseball

PITTSBURGH — There has been a theme for Bryse Wilson in his starts this season. Far too often, he's put together solid innings only to have them blow up on mistake pitches.

Wilson's season-long line is what it is. He entered Wednesday's start against the Cincinnati Reds with a 5.95 ERA, having allowed a team-high 20 home runs over 104 1/3 innings this season.

With that, it's been fair to wonder what Wilson might look like without the mistakes. As far-fetched as that desire may sound, Wilson basically did it against the Reds.

The 24-year-old tossed eight shutout innings, the first time a Pirate has done that since Tyler Anderson did it May 9, 2021. Wilson was dominant throughout, allowing just five baserunners the entire afternoon on three hits, a walk and a hit batter. And yet, it somehow wasn't good enough for him to earn the win.

Pirates manager Derek Shelton pulled Wilson after eight, putting right-hander Chase De Jong in for the ninth. It went horribly.

De Jong allowed a leadoff single to Spencer Steer, a two-run blast to left from Kyle Farmer and a game-tying, no-doubt homer to right from Jake Fraley. All of Wilson's efforts were put in the rear-view in one fell swoop.

Somehow, the Pirates still pulled a 4-3 win out of the fire. In the 10th inning, with the automatic runner starting on second and an intentional walk to outfielder Ben Gamel, the stage was eventually set for second baseman Kevin Newman with two on and two outs. Newman blooped a single into center for his seventh career walk-off plate appearance, salvaging a win despite nearly giving it away.

The late-inning chaos shouldn't take away from the effort Wilson gave the Pirates.

The only times the right-hander ever seemed like he may be in some trouble came in the third and eighth innings. In the former frame, Reds shortstop Jose Barrero got on with a one-out double, but Wilson bounced back to induce an easy groundout to short and a fly out to center to end the threat. In the eighth, Barrero again got on, singling to right and reaching second on a fielding error with two outs. Wilson hit the next batter, then got the final out on a weak popup to shortstop Oneil Cruz.


If it sounds like an uneventful great outing, that's because it was. Then again, the best ones are. Wilson struck out six, didn't really put anyone on base and just worked quickly and efficiently throughout the game.

In a sense, it looked almost frustratingly easy. When Wilson joined the Pirates at the trade deadline last season, he arrived with the pedigree of a former top prospect who had already pitched in a playoff game in his young career with the Atlanta Braves. Again, though, the mistakes have killed him far too often in Pittsburgh, and that's why even after this sterling achievement, his ERA still sits at 5.53 on the season.

As the saying goes, though, better late than never. In one of Wilson's final starts of the season, he put his best foot forward, stringing together the type of confidence-building appearance that can carry one through the offseason.

Surely, Wilson was helped by the fact that his offense had his back almost immediately. The Pirates got on the board in the first, when Cruz singled to left to leadoff the frame, advanced to second on a wild pitch, then scored on a double from Miguel Andujar, who is now 4 for 11 with two doubles and five RBIs in three games with the Pirates.

In the second, Pittsburgh added on. Outfielder Cal Mitchell singled, catcher Jose Godoy did the same two batters later, and the Pirates loaded the bases with a walk to Ji Hwan Bae. Cruz took care of the rest, stepping up with one out and crushing a ball off the top of the Clemente Wall in right for a two-run double. The Pirates threatened again in the eighth, loading the bases, but couldn't come through.

You can nitpick and lament the fact that the Pirates couldn't capitalize on that chance later in the game, but with the way Wilson pitched, it should have been enough. He just didn't get the chance to finish it himself, and De Jong couldn't hold on to it.

Luckily for both of them, the day was saved by Newman in the 10th, as he came through in the late innings again to send the Pirates to their third straight win and another sweep of the Reds.

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