With the Pirates still on a high after Jacob Stallings’s walk-off grand slam that gave them the victory over the Mets on Saturday night, coupled with the official signing of first overall pick Henry Davis this morning, what happened in the first inning of today’s series finale seemed to just go with the happy flow.
Unfortunately, the Bucs’ 6-0 lead evaporated over the course of the game, cemented by a Michael Conforto two-run homer off Richard Rodriguez in the ninth inning that gave the Mets a 7-6 win.
But that first inning ... that was so much fun.
After a bullet-dodging top of the first, where JT Brubaker walked Brandon Nimmo, gave Pete Alonso a single, and hit J.D. Davis but managed to get out of a bases-loaded situation with no score, the Bucs came out firing. After Adam Frazier grounded out, Wilmer Difo, who played third base, was like “Ke’Bryan who?” and doubled. Bryan Reynolds brought him home on a single. Ben Gamel walked, and John “The Legend” Nogowski had everyone pouring celebratory White Russians with his two-run double that landed him on third after an error by catcher Tomas Nido.
But wait, it gets better.
Gregory Polanco walked, then stole second. Michael Perez walked too. Then Kevin Newman came up and hit a trickling roller down on the third base line. A normal player would have scooped it up, maybe tagged Nogowski to save a run. Mets starter Taijuan Walker is apparently not a normal player. He shoveled the ball towards the dugouts—you know, the fair ball—and while the Mets were arguing amongst themselves, here came Nogowski, Polanco, and Perez across the plate. Mets manager Luis Rojas bumped into home plate ump Jeremy Riggs while he was freaking out, and Riggs promptly ejected him.
I’ve been watching baseball for many years, and I have never seen anything like this. It was glorious. Here, see for yourself:
Had to do it @rumbunter @Dejan_Kovacevic @JakeCrouseMLB @AroundThe412 @BucsDugout #Pirates #LetsGoBucs pic.twitter.com/mkckE7PEQq— 412 Sports (@412_PITsports) July 18, 2021
However, the Bucs’ continuing inability to tack on insurance runs, even with substantial leads, came back to bite them. The Mets got on the board in the third courtesy of another Nimmo walk that eventually scored. In the fourth inning, Travis Blankenhorn got off a three-run shot in the fourth to cut the Bucs’ lead to two. The Bucs threatened a couple of times, most notably in the sixth when they loaded the bases with no outs, only to have Aaron Loup strike out Frazier, Difo and Reynolds. (/headdesk) Dominic Smith, whose single got Nimmo home in the third, doubled in the sixth to bring home Jeff McNeil (Polanco’s error didn’t help things) and get within one. Cue RichRod, Conforto, boom into the center field bushes. Sigh.
No, the Pirates didn’t get the sweep. But to not only beat the current NL East leader but take a series from them counts for something.
Well, I think so anyway.