Polanco, Harrison, Rodriguez reach base 3 times; Mercer drives in 2
By Chris Vannini
Special to MLB.com |
DETROIT -- One day after being unable to get a clutch hit, the Pirates got that and more against Justin Verlander.
On Sunday against the Reds, the Pirates went 1-for-14 with runners in scoring position and stranded 14 runners. On Monday against the Tigers, Pittsburgh went 6-for-15 with runners in scoring position and got a load of help from the bottom of the lineup in a 7-4 win.
"We executed extremely well today," manager Clint Hurdle said. "Moving runners, scoring runners from third, looking for pitches, staying within ourselves. It was fun to watch."
Through the first five innings, Pittsburgh's six-through-nine hitters went a combined 7-for-8 with three walks and a sac bunt.
It started in the second inning. With one out, Gregory Polanco doubled, Josh Harrison singled and Sean Rodriguez walked, loading the bases for Jordy Mercer. He fell behind 0-2 but fouled off four straight pitches before singling a slider back up the middle to score two and push the lead to 3-0.
"It was just battling," Mercer said. "He gave me a good curveball for strike two and then stayed with the fastball. I kept battling and battling. He threw me a slider over the plate, and I was able to get some good wood on it. When you get down 0-2, you just go into battle mode, especially with the bases loaded, try to put the ball in play and make something happen."
Polanco, Harrison and Rodriguez each reached base three times. Polanco had three hits, Rodriguez had two walks and Mercer had a sac bunt that set up a sac fly one batter latter.
One day after the Pirates couldn't buy a big hit, they got them from some unexpected places.
"It's going to play out for every Major League team when you can do some damage from down there and connect the dots from top to bottom," Hurdle said. "Those guys at the bottom did a fantastic job getting on base, running the bases, scoring runs."
Chris Vannini is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.