Hot Coffee: Polanco enjoying life in the 3-hole

Bucs' right fielder homers, drives in five to lead 17-hit attack

Hot Coffee: Polanco enjoying life in the 3-hole

PITTSBURGH -- After their 12-1 win over the D-backs at PNC Park on Tuesday, the Pirates could trace almost half their runs back to right fielder Gregory Polanco. Finding a rhythm in the first inning, Polanco went 3-for-5 with a career-high five RBIs to pace the Pirates' 17-hit attack.

It took a second for him to appreciate the result of his first at-bat against D-backs right-hander Shelby Miller.

"'I should've hit it better,'" Polanco said. "That's what went through my mind in that moment."

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Yet it turned out Polanco had sent a three-run home run to right-center, scoring John Jaso and Andrew McCutchen and handing the Pirates a 3-0 lead.

Polanco never lost his rhythm, doubling on a line drive to center to score Chris Stewart and David Freese in the sixth.

"Any night you can drive in five runs in a Major League ballgame, it's pretty special," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.

Polanco discusses offense

Polanco has gone 17-for-43 (.395) in the Pirates' last 11 games and his 33 runs scored are tied for first in the National League. After batting third for most of his Minor League career, Polanco was moved to the three-hole on May 6.

Shortstop Jordy Mercer has taken note of Polanco's rhythm, saying he has handled the transition well.

"Definitely letting it come to him, especially when you're hitting in the three-hole," Mercer said. "You can get some really nasty pitches up there. He's taken really good pitches that are just off the plate for balls, then they've got to come back and groove one over the plate. He's definitely not missing them. When he gets [his swing] extended, the ball jumps off his bat. It's fun to watch."

Polanco's three-run homer

Simply shifting around in the batting order doesn't turn a hitter into a run-producer, though. Polanco said he isn't trying to change his approach based on where he's hitting, instead relying on confidence in his ability and the hitters around him.

"You have to trust in what you've got," Polanco said. "You have to put in work and trust in your coach, trust in yourself."

Sarah K. Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Pittsburgh. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.