Resilient Pirates delivered clutch hits in Friday's comeback victory
PHOENIX — The Pirates went 9 for 16 with runners in scoring position in Friday's 9-4 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks. The splurge came after they went 9 for 49 over their previous seven games.
Eight of those clutch hits Friday came in the final two innings, when the Pirates scored eight runs to erase a 4-1 deficit.
“It's nice to be able to do that,” catcher Russell Martin said. “You don't want to put yourself in that position too often, but it shows the resiliency we have. We always grind out at-bats, regardless of what type of game it is. It doesn't mean we're going to win every night, but at least we know we can trust each other to play that kind of baseball.”
Martin delivered an RBI single in the eighth inning, his only hit of the game. Martin has 11 hits in his past 20 at-bats with runners in scoring position, so he must be doing something right.
“I wish I had the answer,” he said. “I'm still trying to be better at it. You've got to know your strengths and know the situation. Sometimes they'll pitch around you, and you've got to know that.”
That's an area where Andrew McCutchen excels. Martin said he has learned how to approach those situations by studying McCutchen's approach.
“McCutchen knows when they will pitch to him and when they won't,” Martin said. “He doesn't chase much. He has great ability, super-lightning hands, so he can wait for the ball to get so deep.
“I just try to pick a certain pitch and a certain spot. Not trying to do too much is a big key. Sometimes you get guys in scoring position and you get amped, then get yourself out. We've been doing that a lot better as a team this year.”
The Pirates rank sixth in the National League with a .253 batting average with runners in scoring position. They are first in the league with a .358 on-base percentage and fourth with a .722 OPS with runners in scoring position.
Also on Friday, bench players contributed three hits and five RBIs. Travis Snider capped the scoring with a two-run single. Michael Martinez bounced an RBI single up the middle.
The biggest pinch-hit of the game was delivered by Pedro Alvarez. With two outs in the eighth, he slammed a two-run double that tied the game at 4-4.
“A huge at-bat,” Martin said. “Pedro hasn't had too many at-bats in the last couple of days, and he was going against a lefty. To contribute there in a positive way was big. It lifted everybody up.”
Alvarez whacked a 2-2 fastball from left-handed reliever Eury De La Rosa into the gap in right-center field. It was Alvarez's first pinch-hit since July 3, 2012.
“It's not something we ask him to do a lot of,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “Two years sounds like a long time, but how many at-bats has it consumed? It's a hard job for an everyday player. It should boost his confidence.”
As a pinch hitter, Alvarez went 2 for 10 in 2011, 2 for 4 in 2012 and 0 for 1 last year. This season, he is 1 for 7.
Alvarez said his approach at the plate stays the same, whether he's batting as a starter or off the bench.
“The only difference I've noticed is, you really have to go up there ready to hit,” Alvarez said. “Sometimes that first pitch you see is the only one you'll get to drive. You have to be ready as soon as you step in the box.”
Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.
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 bench coach Jeff Banister named Rangers manager
- Pirates organization to continue pursuing value free agents in offseason
- Pirates will implement price increase for 2015 tickets
- Pirates face mound of decisions in offseason
- Pirates are solid at shortstop with the durable Mercer in play
- Do Pirates have what it takes to end World Series drought?
- Pirates notebook: Reds deny intent after Cueto plunks McCutchen