Pirates' first base platoon tag-teams to beat Phillies, 6-4

Hunter Martin

The Pirates defeated the Phillies 6-4 Thursday afternoon to take three of four in the series.

It was another come-from-behind win for a team that's been exciting to watch recently. My main takeaway right now, though, is this: Platoons are good.

Let's look at Garrett Jones' numbers for the year.

.298/.349/.439

Okay, that's fine. Not ideal, of course, given that Jones doesn't provide any defensive value, but if you've got other players in your lineup contributing, then OH WAIT A MINUTE! GABY SANCHEZ'S SEASON NUMBERS HAVE CLIMBED THE TURNBUCKLE!

.264/.364/.583

AND DOWN GO THE PHILLIES WITH THE FLYING CLOTHESLINE! You didn't even see Gaby Sanchez coming, did you? I didn't. A few days ago, when the Pirates were facing a long string of right-handers, I almost forgot he existed. Today, though, he hit a bomb to left-center in the sixth off Cliff Lee to tie the game at one. After the Phillies scored two in the bottom of the inning, Sanchez added an RBI single in the seventh, and Michael McKenry followed with an RBI single of his own to tie it.

Then in the eighth, the Phillies brought in righty Phillippe Aumont, and HANG ON, TRAVIS SNIDER AND GARRETT JONES JUST LEAPT INTO THE RING CARRYING FOLDING CHAIRS. It was Jones whose blow was the most devastating, with a two-run double that put the Pirates up by two. The Pirates then picked up an insurance run when Starling Marte darted home on a ridiculously shallow fly ball and may or may not have just missed being tagged. That gave Tony Watson, who worked the eighth and ninth because Mark Melancon and Jason Grilli were unavailable, a three-run cushion. He allowed one run, but otherwise held steady.

Before that, James McDonald had an uneven outing, allowing three runs over five innings while striking out four and walking three. But what impressed me most is the Pirates put Sanchez (who also made a nice catch in foul territory in the late innings) and Jones in position to succeed, and they did it. Kudos to Clint Hurdle for taking advantage of batter handedness these last couple weeks. It's not rocket science, but it's helping the Pirates win. Gaby Sanchez has a .947 OPS this year, Snider is at .823, and Jones is at .788. That's not an accident. That's three useful players essentially being used correctly.

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