Alvarez, Marte homer in 9th as Pirates rally past Blue Jays
If ever there was a time to press, it was in the ninth inning Friday for Pedro Alvarez, Starling Marte and the Pirates.
Before the late heroics leading to a Pirates' 6-5 walk-off win against the Blue Jays, the club had stranded 38 runners in a 30-hour period. They had arrived to the park in a weary state, landing at Pittsburgh International Airport at 3:33 a.m. Friday after being swept by Baltimore in a doubleheader Thursday. They entered PNC Park having lost of 15 of their last 19 games.
With one out and trailing 5-3 in the ninth inning, Alvarez didn't want Neil Walker, who was on first base with his third hit of the game, to become the 11th stranded runner of the night. The Pirates had already squandered two bases-loaded opportunities earlier in the game.
Before the game, Alvarez talked about not deviating from his new don't-do-too-much approach at the plate. While Alvarez entered batting .194, the Pirates believed he was making strides — seen in his increased walk rate, decreased strikeout rate.
The process led to results in the ninth inning. Alvarez redirected a 94 mph Sergio Santos fastball into the right-field seats to tie the score at 5-5.
“You have to stay stubborn with your approach regardless of the results and just hope you get the outcome you want,” Alvarez said. “If you (press) you'll find yourself in a snowball effect and keep getting worse.”
A day earlier in Baltimore, the struggling Marte was dropped from the leadoff spot. He hit sixth Monday, an attempt by manager Clint Hurdle to reduce pressure on the Pirates' left fielder.
One batter after Alvarez in the ninth, Marte smashed a Santos pitch over the center-field wall for the game-winner. Marte flipped his bat at the plate. He was met by teammates at home plate, a team that has had so little celebrate since early April.
“Everything's the same,” Marte said of hitting lower in the lineup. “I try to do my job and put the ball in play. That's what I do. Nothing different … (The pitch) was a little up. A good spot for hitting.”
The Pirates entered the game as one of the unluckiest teams in baseball, according to batting average on balls in play. The Pirates entered with a .259 average on balls in play, ranking 29th in baseball. League average is around .300. Hurdle believed the Pirates' luck would change as long as they remain committed to the approach.
“That's all we kept talking about. Stay relentless in your pursuit. Keep getting out there. Keep scratching, keep clawing, keep playing,” Hurdle said. “(Marte) has had really good, clean, aggressive at-bats the last three games he's played down there. None bigger than that one. It's been a while since Pedro was able to ride one out of the ballpark. Those kinds of things can create more momentum and more traction.”
The ninth-inning heroics were in part necessary as Gerrit Cole was not at the top of his game.
Cole has allowed four or more runs in only five career starts, but three of those starts occurred over his last five outings. Cole allowed seven hits and four runs Friday.
Cole allowed a two-run homer to Colby Rasmus in the fourth that gave the Blue Jays a 3-2 lead and an RBI double to Jose Bautista in the sixth that gave Toronto a 4-2 lead. Cole threw just 11 of his 20 curveballs for strikes as Blue Jays hitters appeared to key on his 95-97 mph fastball. But the Pirates bullpen allowed just one run over the final four innings and in the ninth the Pirates' bats finally arrived — better late than never.
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.
- Cops: Man shoots 11-year-old with BB gun in McKeesport; boy critical
- With space to spare, Pittsburgh International draws corporate jet carrier
- Pirates pitcher Morton turns in solid performance in win over Marlins
- Pirates notebook: Morton’s return to Pirates means Liz leaves
- Accident at West Virginia’s Cheat Lake sends boaters to hospital
- Consistency keeps Cellone’s Bakery customers coming back
- ‘Voice of Pittsburgh’ was proud of Mon Valley roots
- Previewing the the 2015 WPIAL baseball championships
- 12 missing after flooding in Texas sweeps away vacation home
- Fayette County man dies in motorcycle accident
- Westmoreland Veterans’ Monument unveiled, rededicated in Greensburg