– by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief
PHOENIX — It only stands to reason that one of the hottest hitters in Major League Baseball would have another scorching night at the plate as he took his scorching hot bat to the desert.
Pittsburgh first baseman Josh Bell crushed a pair of home runs, driving in each of the Pirates’ first four runs, while Joe Musgrove pitched seven innings of one-hit baseball in a 6-2 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on Tuesday. Both of Bell’s clouts were majestic moonshots to center and right respectively, measuring over 900 feet combined, including a 460-foot clout to right that gave the Pirates a 4-0 advantage in the eighth inning.
Bell extended his hitting streak to 14 games, the longest active hitting streak in the Majors, hitting .421 over that stretch with six home runs, 21 runs batted in and a 1.344 OPS.
“We’ve never seen him roll like this,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “I don’t know if I’ve seen anybody roll like this in a Pittsburgh uniform for a while.”
Bell got the Pirates on the board first by driving in Starling Marte after reaching on a force play in the third inning before smacking a line-drive two-run homer over the batter’s eye off of Arizona starter Luke Weaver in his next at-bat in the fifth inning for a 3-0 lead.
Those three runs were enough for Musgrove, who was coming off two shaky outings in a row as he had allowed 15 runs (13 earned) in just 5.2 innings in his first two starts of May. Tonight, Musgrove allowed just one hit and walked two over seven shutout innings as 19 of the 21 outs he recorded were done in four or fewer pitches.
It only took 75 pitches for Musgrove to get through those seven efficient innings.
“To have back-to-back tough ones like I’ve had, it’s really easy to mentally break down and start searching for stuff that’s not there and try to create excuses and stuff,” Musgrove said Tuesday. “It’s a long season. After the first tough outing that I had, you try to move on and keep working and fix the things that need to be fixed.”
Soon after Musgrove’s departure, Bell led off the eighth with his second homer of the game, this time off of reliever Zack Godley. With two outs in the inning, Pirates rookie shortstop and Phoenix native Cole Tucker launched a two-run homer to right, setting off wild celebrations in the stands from the sizable number of friends and family in attendance who came out to watch. For Tucker, who grew up a Diamondbacks fan, it was his second career home run in the Majors.
“It was nuts, man. I couldn’t even play it cool. I was really trying to, but the 12-year-old in me came out,” Tucker said. “I was smiling and cheesing and laughing around the bases – like, literally, audibly laughing. I couldn’t have drawn it up any better, man. I’ve obviously been not swinging the bat so great, so to do that in this city and this stadium and to help us win tonight was awesome.”
Weaver got the loss for Arizona despite hurling a quality start, going six innings while allowing three runs and seven hits while striking out five. Catcher Carson Kelly broke the shutout in the bottom of the eighth inning with a solo home run while Adam Jones rounded out the scoring with an RBI single in the ninth.
The loss snapped a nine-game winning streak by the Diamondbacks against the Pirates, as Arizona swept a four-game series from Pittsburgh at PNC Park late last month.
*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Tuesday’s game, with all photos taken by Phoenix-area photographer Sammantha-Maria Herbaugh. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are currently 14 pictures in total.