This was a weird one. Jameson Taillon took a comebacker off his head that bounced all the way to Starling Marte in left field and somehow stayed in the game to finish out six strong innings, yielding only a single run. Thank Blackbeard’s ghost he’s okay. Mark Melancon blew his second straight save when he was only one pitch away from closing the game out. At least this time, it didn’t take a whole extra game to decide the victor.
Josh Harrison came through huge in the bottom of the ninth. On the second pitch he saw, he drive a ball to deep right center field. Kirk Nieuwenhuis had a beat on it and almost caught it against the wall, but dropped it and it slightly caromed away. This was all the opening Harrison needed, deciding to go for a triple with no outs. He ended up scoring on an overthrow to third that went out of play and the Bucs won, 3-2.
I want to focus on Harrison’s hustle here, though. He hit a ball that was 2 feet short of being a walkoff homer. Rather than watch the ball out of the box, though, and simply take his double that he was essentially guaranteed, he hustled his ass off from the first millisecond that the ball left his bat. This gave him the opening to attempt to take third in the first place, which thus gave the Pirates the winning run on the overthrow. No hustle, no man going to third and who knows what happens from there. Lots of Major League players dog it out of the box until they realize the ball isn’t caught/a home run/whatever they expected and then have to play catchup running the bases. Not so with the indomitable J-Hay, whose hustle singlehandedly won the game for the Pirates today in the ninth.
I said the Pirates need to beat bad teams over the next week and half, and this is a great start (in that all the wins count the same, regardless of how you get 'em). The mercurial Jeff Locke gets the nod against the less-mercurial-and-more-just-plain-bad Chase Anderson tomorrow and the Pirates hope to keep their hot streak going toward a playoff berth.