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Postgame: Josh Harrison does everything in win over Reds

Joe Sargent

Harrison has a night

"You can watch a lot of baseball games and you'd be hard-pressed to find a better all-around game than Josh [Harrison] had tonight on both sides of the ball," Clint Hurdle said of his third baseman's dominating performance Friday.

Harrison's night included playing a role in 40 percent of the fielding outs (8-of-20), gaining 50 percent of the Pirates' total bases (6-of-12), netting the game-tying RBI and scoring the game-winning run.

"For me, he is the MVP," Edinson Volquez said afterwards.

"Of the team, or the league?" he was asked.

"Of the league," Volquez responded.

Later, as the press scrum moved over to Harrison's locker, Volquez repeated the sentiment, delivering the M!V!P! chant as he walked by.

To get a sense of how good Harrison has been this season:

  • His fWAR now stands at 3.9, and that is before tonight's fielding numbers are factored in. That puts him 0.3 WAR ahead of Miguel Cabrera, who has 132 more plate appearances.
  • His WAR/600 is now 5.37, only 0.33 behind the team's actual MVP Andrew McCutchen. (War/600 is extrapolating current WAR out to 600 plate appearances.)
  • His 138 wRC+ is only two points behind Adrian Beltre, and three better than David Ortiz and Cabrera.

To get a sense of how unexpected all of this is, ZiPS  had Harrison good for 1.2 WAR in 432 plate appearances before the season. So far, he's been more than three times better than expected in 435 plate appearances.

Besides his play, what's surprised me the most is that he's never once seemed surprised.

I clearly remember in June expecting, maybe even wanting, him to admit that he was in some indescribable, once-in-a-lifetime zone, and that his expanding highlight reel of game-changing plays was making him as giddy as the Pirates fans who were giving him numerous walk-off standing ovations. But that has never happened. Never a laughing shake of the head followed by an "I don't know how to explain it." Rather, throughout all of this Harrison has stood at his locker and repeated over and over with the most authentic, straightforward conviction that he always expected this from himself. He always knew he could be this type of player.

Tonight was not much different from any other night in that regard.

"I'm very humbled by those words by skip," Harrison said. "I was just out there trying to help any way possible, and I got presented with a lot of opportunities."

On his sterling defensive play over at third since taking over the position, Harrison said, "It's just natural."

"I just go out there and do what I do," Harrison continued. "I just go out there and trust my ability and let it play."

He did, though, for a brief moment shed some light on how much fun he is having this season.

"Yeah, man, I'm having a blast all the time, everyday," Harrison said, this time with a pretty wide smile and maybe a head shake.

Volquez not kidding around tonight

Edinson Volquez pitched a very fine game tonight, carrying a no-hitter into the sixth. He was helped, it seems, by a taking a new approach to facing his old team that still features some old friends.

"More concentration [tonight]," Volquez explained. "The whole game I didn't even look into their dugout. I didn't want to get too funny over there. I was very serious in what I was doing. Sometimes we get too relaxed. I look at Johnny [Cueto] and all those guys. And, I was like, ‘We can talk after the game tonight. Let me do my job tonight.'"

Lambo's big hit

Andrew Lambo got things started in the eighth inning for the Pirates by hitting a lead-off single in his first at bat since being called up this afternoon. He scored the game-tying run when Harrison tripled.

"It's just a situation you want to be in," Lambo said of pinch hitting late in a close game. "I was fortunate because I had faced [Jonathan] Broxton a couple of times on a rehab start and was a little familiar with what he had. I know he likes to throw strikes and pound the zone. So, I was trying to get a good pitch early and put a good swing on it."

Watson's vulture win

Tony Watson allowed the hit that scored the go-ahead run for the Reds in the top of the eighth. When the Pirates rallied in the bottom of the eighth to take the lead and win the game, Watson was credited with his 10th win of the season. He is now has the second most wins on the Pirates staff.