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Jack Suwinski has good matchups and gets extra-base hits for the Pirates in a loss

In Washington, D.C., Jack Suwinski had to wait for five games before he could finally play against a right-handed starting pitcher and be in the cleanup spot in the Pittsburgh Pirates' lineup.

In Washington, D.C., Jack Suwinski had to wait for five games before he could finally play against a right-handed starting pitcher and be in the cleanup spot in the Pittsburgh Pirates' lineup.

The left-handed power hitter did not start in three of the first five games this season because the Pirates were facing a lot of left-handed pitchers. When he did start, Suwinski batted ninth and fifth in the lineup as Pirates manager Derek Shelton preferred to play the more advantageous matchups.

In a 5-3 loss to the Washington Nationals – the Pirates' first defeat of the season – Suwinski had two significant extra-base hits on Wednesday night, and one of them was a positive sign for the left-handed power hitter.

“It feels good to make a couple of good swings and get the ball rolling,” Suwinski said after going 2 for 4 with his first double and home run of the season.

Suwinski started the Pirates' scoring in a two-run second inning with a leadoff double, hitting Trevor Williams’ 2-0 changeup down the right field line. Andrew McCutchen and Rowdy Tellez both drew walks to load the bases, and Suwinski scored on Michael A. Taylor’s two-out single to left, giving the Pirates a 1-0 lead.

Suwinski attributed his strong performance at the plate, accounting for half of the Pirates’ hits and two of their three runs, to his work with hitting coach Andy Haines.

“(It’s just) going back to preparation and stuff like that,” Suwinski said, “talking with Hainesy, having a good plan going into the box.”

But Suwinski’s third at-bat was crucial, for him and the Pirates. After Williams struck out Ke’Bryan Hayes to start the sixth inning, the Nationals replaced him with left-handed reliever Robert Garcia. The move made sense, given that Suwinski batted .200/.296/.313 against lefties but hit .232/.353/.503 with 16 of his 21 doubles, 24 of his 26 homers and 60 of his 74 RBIs against right-handers last season.

However, it backfired when Garcia left a 1-0 slider over the middle of the plate and Suwinski hit a 402-foot home run to right field at an exit velocity of 109.1 mph. Shelton was impressed that Suwinski hit a home run in a left-on-left situation so early in the season.

Shelton said, “He got a ball up in the zone and took a good swing. That’s encouraging to see.”

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