Adam Frazier mashed a walk-off tater in the 11th inning Sunday to give the Pirates a 2-1 win and a series split with the Chicago Cubs.
“I’m just trying to get it over the plate and be on time,” Frazier said. “Both came together right there.”
A series split may be a tough pill to swallow after holding the Cubs to just one run in each game.
“You never are happy about splitting, but I guess when you come back and salvage a split, it’s a little bit different of a feeling,” starter Jameson Taillon said. “Today was a big one.”
Taillon was sharp in his six innings of work, with his one blemish being a second inning solo shot to Kyle Schwarber. He surrendered five hits and three walks, striking out eight. Five of his strikeouts were located in the bottom third of the zone or lower.
He threw 14 first pitch strikes to his 24 batters faced, retiring six on three pitches or fewer.
The Pirates tied the game in the fifth on a Gregory Polanco double, but poor base running reared its head shortly after. With runners on second and third and nobody out, Starling Marte was thrown out at home on a grounder to Anthony Rizzo, getting caught in a half-hearted run down that didn’t allow batter David Freese to advance to second. The second out of the inning came on a Josh Bell fly ball where Polanco was held at third, even though the throw by the left fielder Schwarber was off the line.
In the seventh, pinch-runner Kevin Newman made the final out by being thrown out at home on a Marte double.
“We complicated things throughout the afternoon, and we’ll unpack all that tomorrow,” Clint Hurdle said.
Despite those mistakes and Corey Dickerson hitting into a bases loaded 4-9-3 double-play to end the ninth (which is apparently possible), Frazier’s walk-off on a two out, 3-0 pitch keeps the Pirates’ season alive. They are now 63-62.
Cubs’ starter Jose Quintana was pulled after 5+ innings, allowing one run on four hits and two walks, fanning four.
Richard Rodriguez pitched two scoreless innings to get the win (3-2). Brandon Kintzler is saddled with the loss (1-3).
Elias Diaz was a victim himself of the bad base running bug, getting picked off in the second inning, but he got his revenge in the 11th by picking Addison Russell off third for the second out. The Cubs would end up leaving the bases loaded in the inning.
The pick-off was a designed play by coach and former big league catcher Tom Prince which was executed perfectly. Diaz set up further outside than usual, giving him a clear throwing pathway to third base.
“It’s a play that we’ve worked with our catchers that we’ve had in mind for awhile,” Hurdle said. “The execution of it. Once you get a strike like that, you look for aggressive runners. The Cubs are aggressive and good...
“There are a number of other times this year where we’ve tried it. That one showed up at a very pivotal point.”
That pick-off came during a four batter stretch where the Cubs doubled and then drew three walks.
From GM NH
Neal Huntington answered questions from the media before the game Sunday. Here are some of the highlights...
On Newman sitting on the bench: “We felt like this was a good opportunity to give him a quick taste of the big leagues while Jordy’s down. He is going to get some playing time up here, but I think we’re missing that Hechavarria is an above average major league shortstop. We’re six games out of the wild card spot, fighting for our playoff lives. I’ve worked with Clint and give him complete confidence and support to put out the lineup we feel gives us the best chance to win a game.”
On trading Shane Baz and what role minor league pitching depth played in allowing them to trade their 2017 first rounder: “It was not an easy decision. It was about Chris Archer and the three-plus years he can help us be better, help us win games, and in our minds, we have a postseason caliber contender. The belief that with the extra [draft] picks, the belief that the Nick Kingham’s and the Tyler Glasnow’s and the Chad Kuhl’s and the Trevor Williams’ that are second through ninth rounders in that group, that we can create a good major league starting pitcher. Mitch Keller wasn’t a first round pick from that group. Where as the opportunity to add a Chris Archer, we have very limited windows to add a pitcher of that caliber. It was not an easy decision. We gave up a lot, but we felt we got a lot in return.”
On if Chad Kuhl may return in 2018. Kuhl started a throwing program earlier this week: “It is reasonable to think that if the throwing program goes well that we could see Chad again this year. But it’s so early in the throwing program that it’s tough to truly give a prediction.”
The Pirates will open a three game set with the Atlanta Braves Monday at 7:05 p.m.. The two prize pitchers of the trade deadline will be the opening billing when Chris Archer (4-5, 4.49) takes on Kevin Gausman (7-9, 4.22).
1. Pirates’ starting pitchers have allowed 14 runs in 50.2 innings (2.49 ERA) since
Biometrics Gate Aug. 12.
2. Edgar Santana has gone 15 straight scoreless appearances at home (15.1 IP).
3. Today was the 41st time Adam Frazier had a 3-0 count in his career but just the second time that he swung. The only other swing resulted in a flyout on July 7, 2017.