SEATTLE -- On seven occasions on Friday at T-Mobile Park, a Pirate stepped into the batter’s box, waved his baton -- or bat, rather -- and orchestrated an entire stadium full of groans. Andrew McCutchen played that role of conductor, as did Carlos Santana, Jack Suwinski -- twice -- Ke'Bryan Hayes, Tucupita Marcano and, last and certainly not quietest, Bryan Reynolds.
On a night defined by the symphony of bat meeting ball, the Pirates tied their franchise record of seven home runs, emphatically outslugging the Mariners, 11-6, at T-Mobile Park in a certifiably classic performance.
“It was an awesome day, for everyone to show up and play the way that they did,” said Suwinski fresh off his third career multi-homer game. “This is a little bit of what we saw at the beginning of the year. It just shows that we’re a good baseball team. We can play at a really good level when we’re all playing together, playing for each other.”
Friday’s fireworks, an offensive display that coincided with T-Mobile Park’s literal fireworks following the game, marked the third time since 1901 that the Pirates have hit seven home runs in a single game, the other occasions being Aug. 20, 2003, and Aug. 16, 1947, both coming against the Cardinals. Per team historian Jim Trdinich, the Pirates also had seven home runs on June 6, 1894, against Boston.
McCutchen began the concert by setting the tone with a towering home run over the left-field fence to give the Pirates a 1-0 lead. With two hits on Friday, the other being a single, McCutchen now sits 10 hits away from 2,000 in his career.
Santana, whose leadership played an invaluable role in the Mariners breaking their two-decade playoff drought last season, hooked a solo shot over the right-field fence, his first homer since April 7.
Suwinski and Hayes went back to back in the fifth inning, headlining a five-run frame that helped bust the game open. As George Kirby walked off the mound following Hayes’ homer, a chorus of “Let’s Go Bucs!” chants from behind the third-base dugout temporarily turned T-Mobile Park into PNC Park West.
Suwinski was part of another multi-homer frame as he and Marcano left the building in the seventh inning with a ballad of bombs. In the eighth, Reynolds capped off the harmony of homers with the most aesthetically awesome home run of the night, a 403-foot moonshot that clanged off the windows of the Hit It Here Cafe.
“At that point, some of us were just laughing to each other just because the game plan we had going in wasn’t to slug the whole game like the way we did,” Suwinski said.
Added Mitch Keller, “[We were] kind of just looking around like, ‘Who’s next? Who’s next?’ It’s fun. It’s a lot of fun. Especially going back to back. Special night for the offense. Couldn’t be happier for all those guys.”
Four of the Pirates’ seven home runs came against Kirby, an especially impressive feat given how adept Kirby has been at containing the long ball. Coming into play, Kirby had only allowed three home runs all season; the only pitchers this year who have allowed three home runs or fewer are Hunter Brown (3), Nathan Eovaldi (3), Zac Gallen (2), Justin Steele (2) and Sonny Gray (0). Additionally, Kirby’s 0.46 HR/9 ranked fifth among starting pitchers.
“He’s a really good pitcher,” Reynolds said. “I’m proud of the way we came in with a good approach and we stuck with it. We were prepared. [Four] homers off anybody is impressive, but the fact we could do that off a pitcher like him is really good.”
Pittsburgh’s offensive flurry was needed on a night when Keller, for the first time in several weeks, didn't have his ace stuff. Keller allowed a season-high six earned runs across six-plus innings, his ERA ballooning from 2.44 to 3.01 by night’s end. The right-hander, who walked two, gave up two homers and struck out eight, said he wasn’t sharp, adding that he plans to flush this outing and move on.