As you know, the Pirates are playing tremendous baseball right now. They've won 12 of their last 15 games and all of their last five series, and they're on a four-game win streak.
Thanks at least in part to the Royals' wacky defense, that four-game winning streak has seen plenty of strange plays. What's your favorite highlight from the last four games? You can use whatever criteria you want -- uniqueness/wackiness factor (this is the criterion I prefer), impact upon the game in question, how good it made you feel, whatever.
A few that jump out to me:
Andrew McCutchen flies out to right fielder Mitch Maier in foul territory.
A total acting job by Maier, who appeared to make a spectacular catch diving over the wall along the right-field foul line. Replays revealed that the ball was actually beneath him as he fell.
Matt Hague reaches on force attempt, missed catch error by catcher Brayan Pena, assist to right fielder Eric Hosmer. Jose Tabata scores. Rod Barajas to 3rd. Clint Barmes to 2nd.
Hague hit a ball to right field that most right fielders would have caught. Eric Hosmer, however, isn't like most right fielders. He let the ball bounce in front of him, confusing just about everyone. He then made a good throw home, where he would have nailed Tabata, except Pena bobbled the ball. And so the Pirates avoided the indignity of the extremely rare 9-2 forceout.
Friday, second inning:
Clint Barmes singles on a line drive to left fielder Alex Gordon. Rod Barajas scores. Clint Barmes to 2nd on the throw.
Best/worst slide of the year so far. I'm not sure which.
With Rod Barajas batting, Jose Tabata picked off and caught stealing 2nd base, pitcher Luke Hochevar to first baseman Billy Butler to second baseman Yuniesky Betancourt, Pedro Alvarez scores.
Okay, Tabata shouldn't have gotten picked off. And most first basemen would have prevented Alvarez from breaking for the plate. But as with Eric Hosmer and right field, Billy Butler isn't like most first basemen. Alvarez caught the Royals napping and scampered home without a throw. Say this for the Royals -- they did several things in this series you don't see very often. Unless, you know, you go to a lot of high school games or something.
Brandon Phillips singles on a ground ball to right fielder Jose Tabata. Joey Votto out at home on the throw, right fielder Jose Tabata to catcher Michael McKenry.
Just an amazing throw. Tabata came charging in on Phillips' single, then threw a rocket that bounced a few feet in front of the plate and ended up right in McKenry's glove.
Thursday, 10th inning:
Michael McKenry doubles (3) on a fly ball to right fielder Jay Bruce. Clint Barmes scores.
McKenry smacking an incredibly clutch gap double on a 99-MPH fastball by a reliever who hadn't allowed a run all year reminded me a bit of McKenry's huge homer last year against Carlos Marmol. In this case, McKenry's RBI double turned out to be decisive, and the Pirates took a big win over the first-place Reds.
Anyway, those are my favorite highlights of the winning streak (so far). Did I miss any big ones?