Pirates closer Grilli calls 1st career save stepping stone
Jason Grilli's fist was in the air before first baseman Gaby Sanchez stepped on the bag to record the final out of the Pirates' 5-3 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday.
Another win in the books. And it was a big one.
Not only did it mean the Pirates have a chance to advance to the National League Championship Series with a win on Monday, but it also was Grilli's first-ever postseason save.
Clubhouse manager Scott Bonnett made sure to retrieve the ball and set it in Grilli's locker. The 36-year-old said he keeps all the baseballs from his saves — 33 from the 2013 regular season — tucked away in various corners of his home away from home.
Sunday's ball would make a total of 39, including five from Grilli's previous 330 major-league games before the Pirates re-signed him in the offseason and made him their closer despite his lack of experience in the role.
He doesn't have a favorite. Not yet.
“There's no one (ball) that's more special because it's all a stepping stone to the last one,” Grilli said. “That's the way I look at it. Just to contribute, finish it, I mean, it's not even about me getting a save.
“There's so much work guys are putting into the way we play. Our bullpen is awesome, our middle relievers are incredible. (Mark) Melancon's been incredible.
“It's just the way this team has played all year. It's fun.”
Grilli pitched in each of the Pirates' two previous postseason wins, but they already had the game well in hand before he took the ball.
On Sunday, the Pirates had just responded to a solo home run by Carlos Beltran in the top of the eighth that tied the game at 3-3 with a pair of runs of their own in the bottom of the inning.
When Grilli ran in from the bullpen, the crowd of 40,489 was still beside itself with excitement.
Grilli said he tries to block the cheering and screaming out, though, if only for the sake of self-preservation.
“I felt like I could lift up my Hummer with the adrenaline that was flowing, so you have to slow it down a little bit,” said Grilli, who missed all of August with a flexor strain in his right arm. “You have to take it in stride and try to use it to your advantage. If you get too pumped it's like being a bull in a china shop.
“We're not playing football out there. We've got to still make our pitches, slow the game down. If you let it take hold of you it can be too much.”
Grilli gave up a leadoff single to Matt Adams, but the next three batters went down in order.
“That's what we do, when we get to the ninth inning we hand the ball over to Grilli,” said Josh Harrison, who scored the go-ahead run. “We have faith in him, just like we have faith in the rest of the shark tank.”
Another win in the books, and it was a big one. Grilli believes it won't be the biggest.
“Every game's an important one,” Grilli said. “That's all it means.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates sign Corey Hart to 1-year deal
- Ex-Pirate Parker fights against Parkinson’s with optimistic attitude
- MLB notebook: Pirates’ Liriano gets $2 million bonus as part of 3-year, $39 million deal
- Pirates notebook: Team ‘more relevant’ as Winter Meetings end
- Pirates notebook: New catcher Cervelli eager to bond with staff