Sometimes it is not what about what is done when a team fails to score a run in any given inning, but there are occasions in which that does not tell the full story.
While David Freese’s three-run home run will be the talk of this game, perhaps more eyes should be turned to the opening three innings of the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-4 victory Wednesday night over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
In those first three innings, the Pirates came away with three hits. No big deal, right?
The Pirates are known for being more of a patient teams and one which has the goal of seeing pitches in order to get to the bullpen as early as possible. Manager Clint Hurdle has only said as much throughout the season.
Diamondbacks pitcher Rubby De La Rosa has frustrated the Pirates on multiple occasions and appeared to be on a similar cruise control mindset after those three innings, but the real story was in that pitch count which read 58.
Using that many pitches in a shorter period of time adds pressure to the pitcher but also validates a hitter that their approach is working.
Just 1.1 innings later, De La Rosa (4-5) was removed from the game.
The Pirates were subject to rumors of retaliation from Diamondbacks Chief Baseball Officer Tony La Russa. La Russa was known for retaliating at opposing teams in his managerial days and hinted at something being done on an Arizona radio station.
Instead, the Pirates had the final say letting their bats do the talking.
A core principal for the Pirates is to have the opposing pitcher throw at least 80 pitches through five innings. De La Rosa pitched 4.1 innings and used 92 pitches.
With the background work done, it was time for the pitch build up to score some runs.
Jeff Locke (3-3) once again kept his team in the game pitching 6.1 innings, but his change up location or in this case lack there of, put the Pirates in a 3-0 hole.
Sean Rodriguez started the scoring with his fifth home run, a solo shot to left field. Rodriguez was a late add to the lineup, replacing Josh Harrison and the switch presented little drop off.
Still Rickie Weeks Jr. added a home run to put the Arizona lead back to three runs.
It just meant the Pirates had to remain stubborn with their approach.
It did not take long.
Gregory Polanco, fresh off a career-high night of five RBIs, had a 3-for-4 performance at the plate Wednesday night and started the scoring with an RBI double, his 18th two-bagger of the season that also advanced Andrew McCutchen to third base.
McCutchen scored on a Starling Marte ground out to cut the Diamondbacks lead to 4-3.
It has been long publicized that Freese was the 2011 World Series game six hero with a game-tying home run off Neftali Feliz. The two became teammates this season, and they were linked again Wednesday.
Freeze swung at a 2-2 De La Rosa offering and hit it 451 feet into the Pirates bullpen and Feliz’s waiting glove.
The imagery came full circle. Not only because of the Freese-Feliz connection, but also since the game plan was once again executed as the home run knocked De La Rosa out of the game.
This kind of outcome is nothing new as this is the way the Pirates like to win.
It’s why the Pirates won all three series this homestand and remain in a great position as the season continues.
The 10-game homestand will conclude Thursday afternoon when Gerrit Cole (5-3, 2.79 ERA) takes on Patrick Corbin (2-3, 3.99 ERA). In three career starts against the Diamondbacks, Cole is 2-1 with a 3.10 ERA.
Photo credit: Associated Press