Elias Diaz wasn’t supposed to play Friday night. All he ended up doing was driving in half of the Pirates’ runs in a come-from-behind offensive explosion for a 12-7 win over the Mets in a wild, Coors Field-style game.
Back with the big club with an injury to backup catcher Chris Stewart, Diaz was slated for his normal bench duty until shortly before game time, when Francisco Cervelli was scratched due to illness. Diaz drove in three runs each on a double in the fourth inning and a home run in a seven-run sixth, helping the Pirates overcome more of Gerrit Cole’s home run issues to come back and beat the Mets.
The first six innings, the game swayed wildly back and forth, with the teams exchanging homers and bleeding baserunners.
The Pirates got just one out of a bases-loaded, no-out situation against Matt Harvey in the top of the first. That lead didn’t last long at all, as Lucas Duda whacked a two-run homer in the second. The Pirates loaded the bases again in the fourth and retook the lead, 4-2, when Diaz lined a shot off the wall in left-center.
Everything went to heck in the bottom the fifth, though. Michael Conforto retied it at 4 with a two-run shot of his own. With two outs, Gregory Polanco, he of fantastic athletic feats, again looked strangely, comically inept on Neil Walker’s liner, which turned into a triple and gave the Mets the lead. Cole uncorked a wild pitch to score Walker, then Duda mashed another homer and the Mets led, 7-4.
The Pirates continued the goofiness, though, with seven runs in the fifth. Josh Bell cracked a homer to center to lead off. Andrew McCutchen walked, and Harvey was replaced by Paul Sewald. Jordy Mercer singled, then Diaz turned on the first pitch he saw, a low-and-inside, 88 MPH fastball that he deposited in the seats in left-center for an 8-7 Pirates lead.
After pinch-hitter Max Moroff struck out, five straight batters reached base, then McCutchen nearly stung one for a grand slam, settling for a sacrifice fly. When the dust settled the Pirates were up 11-7.
Strangely, for a game that had gone the way it had to that point, only one run was scored after — Josh Harrison hit a solo homer in the eighth. Wade LeBlanc, Juan Nicasio, Daniel Hudson and Felipe Rivero kept the Mets off the board, allowing just one hit from the sixth inning on, after New York touched up Cole for eight hits and seven runs (though six strikeouts and two walks) in the first five.
Harrison went 3-for-4. Bell went 2-for-4 with a bases-loaded walk, with a good night after going through a downturn. With Polanco back in the starting lineup, Bell was back in the No. 5-spot, if you’re about that sort of thing.
The Pirates’ wins sure have been exciting lately, though some ugly, frustrating losses have been interspersed. It was certainly encouraging to see them come back against a team and a pitcher that beat them soundly five days prior, even with some of the Bucs’ bad traits showing up.