Bell's 474-foot HR helps Bucs sweep Reds

April 7th, 2019

PITTSBURGH -- There was a lot of pushing and shoving when a benches-clearing fracas broke out in the fourth inning of the Pirates' 7-5 victory over the Reds on Sunday afternoon, but saved the hardest hit for a half-inning later.

Bell crushed a 474-foot home run off Reds starter in the bottom of the fourth, the fourth-longest homer on record at PNC Park since it opened in 2001.

The ball came off Bell's bat at 113.3 mph, according to Statcast, and cleared the batter's eye in center field. It is the second-longest homer hit in the Majors this season, trailing only the 482-foot homer that the Rangers' Nomar Mazara hit against the Cubs in Texas on March 28.

"It was awesome. It's stuff that I think about in batting practice, like, 'Oh, if I could hit a ball like that in a game, it'd be unreal,'" Bell said. "That's by far the furthest ball I think I've ever hit. Hopefully I can continue to push that measure from here on out."

Bell's blast was his second in as many days. The switch-hitting first baseman also ripped an RBI double to the right-field wall in the fifth inning, another sign that his power might be returning after a dip in production last season.

"I'm sure a number of people will be jumping on his train now," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "When you strike balls at the velocities that he has and you cover the batter's eye like he did, the ball last night that's up in center field right of the batter's eye and deep, you're just seeing some tangible evidence of that coming into play.

"The ball he pulled was a good swing as well, but the home run, that ball's just clobbered. It's absolutely clobbered. You don't see many of those."

Bell's breakout over the last two days -- he homered and hit two doubles on Saturday -- bodes well for a Pirates lineup that's currently without Gregory Polanco, Corey Dickerson and Lonnie Chisenhall. But he wasn't the only hitter to enjoy a big day at the plate as the Bucs completed their first four-game sweep of the Reds in Pittsburgh since Aug. 22-24, 1969.

Right fielder Melky Cabrera went 3-for-4 with two RBIs. Leadoff man Adam Frazier went 2-for-4 with a massive leadoff home run to right-center field. Left fielder Jason Martin had two hits, his first double and his first RBI in the Majors.

Right-hander Chris Archer, whose fastball behind Derek Dietrich ignited the fight, thought the tension between the two dugouts played a part in Pittsburgh’s 12-hit performance.

"It definitely put a spark in our offense," Archer said. "The following inning, JB hit one of the furthest balls I've ever seen with my eyes. Melky was doing his thing. J-Mart was doing his thing. … All together, we looked really good today."

Archer needed 59 pitches to get through three innings, but he ultimately made it through six innings with seven strikeouts and three runs allowed, two of them on Dietrich’s first homer into the Allegheny River.

"He got in a better place after the on-field altercation and finished the game extremely strong," Hurdle said. "We needed the help, with two men leaving the bullpen. … I also wanted to give him a chance to put a foot down and ratchet his belt a little tighter, and he did."

The Pirates were without closer Felipe Vazquez, who was ejected after the brawl, and setup man Keone Kela, who was also ejected but wouldn't have been available anyway. So when Pittsburgh needed to protect a two-run lead in the ninth inning, Hurdle called upon Richard Rodriguez.

Rodriguez allowed a home run in each of his first two appearances, but he has settled down since. The 29-year-old right-hander, in his second full season, made his third straight scoreless appearance to pick up his first save in the Majors.

"To be honest with you, it still hasn't hit me," Rodriguez said through interpreter Mike Gonzalez. "It feels amazing. More than anything, I look around and I'm so grateful for all the confidence, all the trust, all the belief that every single one of these gentlemen have poured into me and instilled in me.”