Pittsburgh Pirates wake-up call: Ring that Bell

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Another gutsy win for the Pirates on Friday, this time of the extra-innings variety.

The win puts the Pirates second in the NL Central at 4-3, which is a good feeling when you consider the injuries this team has faced and the unexpected hiccups from the bullpen along the way.

Here are some observations before we hit Sunday’s afternoon game:

Solid Work From Bullpen: Aside from Joey Votto’s long home run off Keone Kela, the bullpen was very solid in relief of Trevor Williams. Richard Rodriguez, Nick Burdi, Francisco Liriano and Kela combined for six strikeouts in four innings of work with Votto’s home run being the only hit allowed by the group. Considering the issues this group has had thus far, plus Kyle Crick’s trip to the IL, this is a very welcome sight for Pirates fans.

Jason Martin Gets His 1st Career Hit: When you look at the Pirates’ current outfield group, it’s hard to argue against just letting Jason Martin play every day until Corey Dickerson is back. Colin Moran is generally just bad defensively, whether at third base or in an experiment in LF, and JB Shuck and Pablo Reyes have been underwhelming. Martin only collected one hit Saturday but drew a walk in another at-bat. The Pirates gain nothing from letting guys like Shuck play if they’re not contributing. It’s much more beneficial to allow Martin to gain valuable reps until Dickerson can take over again.

Josh Bell’s Big Game: Josh needed this one. Not only was he hitting under .200 entering Saturday, but his 3-5 performance was his first three-hit game of his career. Bell has displayed a smart approach at the plate this year, but the Pirates need him to be a legitimate power source in the middle of the order on a team without a bonafide home run hitter. Hopefully Bell can use Saturday’s breakout performance.

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