Hayes has career night, Pirates send Mets to 7th straight loss with 14-7 romp
PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Pirates needed just one day off to put a humbling series loss to lowly Oakland in the rearview mirror.
It could take far longer to fix what’s wrong with the reeling New York Mets.
Ke’Bryan Hayes tied career highs with five hits and four RBIs and the Pirates sent New York to a seventh straight loss with a 14-7 victory Friday night.
Revitalized by a tweak to his approach in the box during the end of a West Coast trip last week — Hayes replaced a step forward with a mere toe tap during his swing in an effort to improve his timing — the Pittsburgh third baseman has put together the hottest streak of his career since his dazzling September debut in 2020.
Hayes had a two-run single in the third against Tylor Megill (5-4) and a two-run double in the fourth as part of a 5-for-
5 night. Hayes is hitting .558 (19 of 34) with 11 RBIs during an eight-game hitting streak that began when he was briefly dropped to seventh in the order with his batting average languishing at .221.
It’s at .266 now. And rising. Quickly. Proof that his move adjustment — which was borne out of desperation following a four-strikeout performance in Seattle — is working.
“I’ve been working my butt off to try to figure out how to get back to how I was having at-bats in (2020),” Hayes said. “Just trying to be aggressive up there, have my body in the right position and let athleticism take over.”
The Pirates spent Thursday stewing after back-to-back blowout losses to Oakland, which arrived at PNC Park early in the week with the worst record in the majors and left it with just its third series win of the season.
Pittsburgh certainly looked ready to move on while jumping on the Mets, who didn’t arrive from Atlanta until 4:30 a.m. following a draining series sweep at the hands of the rival Braves.
Jack Suwinski went 3 for 4 with his 12th home run of the season. Carlos Santana had two hits, including his fourth home run. Josh Palacios also had two hits for the Pirates. Andrew McCutchen singled in the third inning for his 1,999th career hit.
Rich Hill (6-5) worked seven innings for his second straight victory. The 43-year-old Hill gave up two runs on seven hits with two walks and six strikeouts while throwing 119 pitches, the most by a Pirate since 2012.
“I’m not really aware of the pitch count,” Hill said. “You are pitching until the manager takes the ball from your hands. Shelty let me go out there and let me finish that seventh inning which obviously I’m thankful for.”
Francisco Lindor hit his 12th home run of the season for New York. Starling Marte singled twice against the team he spent the first eight years of his career with (2012-19) but couldn’t stop the Mets’ freefall.
New York’s seven-game slide is its longest since it dropped seven straight in June 2019.
Mets manager Buck Showalter tried to stress the positive after the team put Pete Alonso, whose 22 home runs lead the majors, on the injured list Friday because of a bone bruise and a sprain in his left wrist. Still, even Showalter admitted it “looked like” New York took the field against Pittsburgh still stinging from a winless trip to Atlanta.
The Mets certainly seemed out if it during a sloppy sequence in the third that allowed the Pirates to take control.
Lindor mishandled a routine grounder at shortstop with one out, turning a potential double play into runners on first and second. Suwinski walked to load the bases and Hayes sent a sharp single to left to score two. Ji Hwan Bae followed by dropping a bunt down the third-base line that New York’s Eduardo Escobar threw into the right-field corner. Hayes and Suwinski scored easily while Bae raced all the way to third to make it 7-2 and the Pirates were on their way.
Lindor took responsibility for the mistake and is baffled by his team’s 16-27 slide since a promising 14-7 start.
“I honestly don’t know,” he said. “I want to say it’s part of the season but I’ve been saying that way too long. It’s time to turn the page. It’s time to be better.”
Pirates: RHP Vince Velasquez underwent surgery to repair a ligament in his right elbow on Wednesday and is out for the season. Velasquez, who had Tommy John surgery in 2010, is expected to be out 11-to-12 months. Velasquez initially tweaked the elbow on May 4 and spent three weeks on the injured list but lasted just three innings in his next start against Seattle on May 27.
The series continues Saturday, with Pittsburgh’s Johan Oviedo (3-4, 4.29 ERA) set to face Kodai Senga (5-3, 3.75).