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Yeah, this 14-0 romp vs. Reds felt overdue


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Colin Moran passes the Reds' Derek Dietrich after his grand slam Saturday night at PNC Park. - AP

The Pirates hit, pitched and fielded exceptionally well Saturday night at PNC Park, resulting in their most lopsided win of the season, 14-0 over the Reds.

Could it be their most complete effort of the year?

"I can't remember one like this in the very recent past," Josh Bell was saying after the game when asked that very question. "I feel like this was awesome, in all facets of the game."

Let's take a look at those facets, starting with the defense. Right fielder Pablo Reyes set the tempo, snagging a sinking line drive to rob Josh VanMeter on the first pitch of the game.

"First-pitch ready," Clint Hurdle said of Reyes' effort.

"It sparked us," Bell later added. "It seemed like we were on the other end of that for going over two weeks now."

Bell described the catch as a "momentum setter." The defense would go on to turn three double-plays and play error-free ball all night. In the ninth, Erik Gonzalez tied a bow around their performance with a diving play deep in the hole to rob Jose Peraza of a hit:

Parker Markel's smile says it all.

But a win doesn't come on defense alone. Tonight, these Pirates hit — to the tune of 14 runs. They had scored 13 in the first eight games of this current homestand ... combined.

Up 3-0 in the sixth, pinch-hitter Colin Moran got a hold of an inside curveball that caught too much plate, clearing the right-field wall for a grand slam.

"I didn't think. I just went up there and hit," Moran said at his locker after the game.

It was Moran's first home run since July 29 in Cincinnati.

"We've all had challenges this year," Hurdle said. "He continues to work to get better, on both sides of the ball."

The next inning, Bell made it an even 10, putting one in the bleachers.

Tack on four more in the eighth, and the Pirates finished with two touchdowns' worth of runs, tied for their second best total of the season.

Oh, and that pitching. That matters, too, and this night brought back the Trevor Williams we saw from last summer, firing six scoreless innings while allowing only four baserunners.

He had been in a rut since coming off the injured list in mid-June, with the previous outing being his worst, allowing eight runs in two innings on Aug. 19. This week, he and the coaching staff looked over video and found what Williams called "not a simple fix, but a glaring fix" that needed to be corrected in his delivery.

"We've been really fastidious with our work, with our work ethic," Williams said. "It's something that, within [this] sport, you can trust the process, and see the process work. The results aren't always going to be there, but we analyze what we need to analyze, and we were really diligent in what we were trying to do today."

Williams said he would love to say he was 100 percent in his delivery and execution but said it was more like 95 percent tonight throughout the win. As such, he considers it a stepping stone.

"He put his delivery back together," Hurdle said. "He was much more compact. Sound and compact. There were some really good indicators that we saw."

For as much that has gone wrong in the second half of the season for the Pirates, it all went right for at least one night, giving them something to build upon as they head down the stretch for the 2019 season.

"It's fun to watch a well-played baseball game," Hurdle said.

He's right.

• Bell's home run took him over the century mark for runs batted in, now sitting at 102. The last Pirate to reach 100 RBIs was Pedro Alvarez in 2013, and Bell's total is the most for a Pirate since Jason Bay drove in 109 in 2006.

"There's a lot of weight on that number, so it's cool to get that out of the way," Bell said. "Strive for more."

Hitting coach Rick Eckstein talked to Bell during spring training about what it takes to turn him into the 30-home-run, 100-RBI player he foresaw.

"If you trust your plan and you execute, good things are going to happen," Bell recalled of their conversations.

As the game took its analytical turn, RBIs started to be valued less. However, to borrow a common Hurdle idiom, it stands out on the back of the baseball card. That alone means something to the players suiting up every night.

"People don't seem to value the RBI anymore, but 100 RBIs is pretty unbelievable, especially since we're not even in September," Moran said of Bell's accomplishment. "Obviously, all of his other stats are impressive, too, but RBIs are runs scored, or are runs that your team is scoring. So, at the end of the day, that's pretty important."

• Bell also hit another milestone: His 32 home runs tied him with Bobby Bonilla for the most by a switch-hitter in franchise history. Bonilla's came in 1990.

Bonilla also is the only other Pirates switch-hitter with at least 100 RBIs in a season, according to the Baseball-Reference Play Index. He drove in exactly 100 in 1988 and 1991, and reached 120 in 1990.

• Moran's grand slam is his second of the year and his fourth as a Pirate. If he keeps it up, Williams thinks he should change his Player's Weekend nickname to "Grand Slam Moran."

Of course, Moran is a pretty reserved, mild-mannered dude. What would his reaction to such a bumptious nickname be?

"Maybe one chuckle. Or a loud nose exhale," Williams predicted.

• Before the game, the Pirates celebrated Manny Sanguillen's induction into the Hispanic Baseball Hall of Fame.

• Reynolds watch: The rookie went 2 for 4 with a double and a walk, improving his season slash-line to .326/.399/.518. He is currently in third place in the NL batting crown chase, trailing Jeff McNeil (.336) and Christian Yelich (.328).

Reynolds also scored two runs and drove in another.

• For those still looking for drama between these two clubs, the Pirates were hit by two pitches Saturday, but there wasn't a hint of ill-intent behind either. In the sixth, Bell took a 1-2 breaking ball off the back foot. Starling Marte was clipped by a high-and-tight heater in the seventh, but he was behind in the count 0-2. Both teams are still playing nice.

• This is the Pirates' first home series win in the second half of the season, and they are now 10-30 since the All-Star break. In the words of manager Lou Brown in "Major League II," if they win tomorrow, "That's called a winning streak. It has happened before."


• Boxscore
• Video highlights
• Standings


Clay Holmes (10-day IL, quadriceps)
Gregory Polanco (10-day IL, shoulder)
Lonnie Chisenhall (60-day IL, calf)

Here's the most recent full report.


The Pirates and Reds will conclude the series tomorrow at 1:35 p.m. Dario Agrazal (2-3, 4.09) will take the rubber against Trevor Bauer (10-10, 4.06). I'll be back at the yard, as will Hunter Homistek.


All our baseball content, including Mound Visit by Jason Rollison, Indy Watch by Matt Welch, and Altoona Watch by Jarrod Prugar, can be found on our Pirates page.

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