Home News Jack Suwinski hits 2 home runs to lead Pirates to victory 

Jack Suwinski hits 2 home runs to lead Pirates to victory 

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DENVER — Momentum is supposed to be day to day in baseball, but Jack Suwinski was way ahead of the curve in setting the tone early for the Pirates’ middle tilt of their three-game series in Colorado. After crushing a homer Monday night in his final at-bat, Suwinski stayed hot at the plate on Tuesday, belting two more homers in a 5-3 win.

On Tuesday, the Bucs were already down 3-0 when Suwinski came to bat in the second, driving a 1-2 pitch 364 feet to left for an opposite-field homer. It was the fourth time in his career he’s homered in back-to-back games and the second time in his career he’s homered in three straight at-bats.

“I came into the game feeling pretty good,” Suwinski said. “But just being able to stay on that 1-2 slider on the backside of the plate, that’s something we’ve been working on staying through the ball and staying on the ball. I just think that’s our work coming into play during the game.”

Suwinski didn’t immediately spark the offense, which didn’t record another hit until the fourth frame, but his second trip to the dish came after back-to-back doubles from Connor Joe and Carlos Santana to open the fourth and narrow the Rockies’ lead to one. Suwinski drove a ball into the second deck in right for his second homer of the night. He put the Pirates ahead 4-3, which was all starter Vince Velasquez and the Bucs’ bullpen needed to ride the night to victory and secure a series win.

“The first one was a breaking ball that he hit oppo, and then he got a fastball and when he gets the ball out front, he could crush it,” manager Derek Shelton said of Suwinski’s hot stretch. “We’re starting to see more consistent at-bats out of him. It was really good.”

Tucupita Marcano capped the four-run fourth with a two-out triple and scored on a wild pitch — and a Houdini-esque slide to escape the tag for yet another resilient Bucs comeback.

“The guys are fighting for each other and fighting for the team,” Suwinski said of the recently potent offense. “We’ve been having a lot of fun with each other. We’re here to take care of business … just being diligent in the preparation that we’re doing.”

Tuesday marked the second multi-homer game in Suwinski’s career. The first came as a rookie at home last season against the Giants on June 19, when he went was 3-for-3 with three homers – also in three consecutive at-bats.

Suwinski extended his hitting streak to six games and is now 8-for-19 (.421) with four homers, a double, and six RBIs in the stretch.

It’s a big improvement from a promising rookie campaign that saw him hit 19 homers and drive in 38 runs while hitting .202 (66-for-326) in 106 games. He was primarily a corner outfielder last season, but he’s gotten the lion’s share of starts in center this year.

“He’s done a really nice job in center,” Shelton said. “He’s moved to the corners when we’ve put [Ji Hwan] Bae out there late in the game. We saw Jack have good at-bats last year. If you take that tough stretch out, his numbers are more than respectable for a rookie. Knowing what he has in there makes us have confidence in him.”

Velasquez notched his second straight quality start — and the eighth straight for the rotation — allowing three runs on five hits and three walks with a season-high seven strikeouts in six innings. After the three-run first, he allowed just one more hit before yielding to the bullpen in the seventh.

“Just a matter of adjustments in this game,” Velasquez said. “At first it seemed like they were kind of on to a couple of pitches and I wasn’t really locating my secondary stuff as much as I wanted to. Then I found another pitch, another weapon that I can easily go to, and I managed to utilize that in my repertoire to get them off balance.”

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