Just one day after being eliminated from playoff contention, the Pittsburgh Pirates had a historic performance from first baseman John Jaso in an 8-4 victory Wednesday night against the Chicago Cubs.
Jaso hit for the first cycle in PNC Park’s 15-year history after he trippled off Pedro Strop in the seventh inning.
“It’s an interesting thing,” Jaso said to reporters after the game. “When you have a season where you don’t really make it to the playoffs but there are these little moments during the season that you don’t want to forget about. You don’t want to take this blessing for granted. Even if you don’t make the playoffs, it’s still a one in a million — if not more — opportunity that a lot of people would want to have.”
John Jaso’s cycle in all its glory. pic.twitter.com/zw5iRmd6iJ
— Pirates (@Pirates) September 29, 2016
Each of the past two cycles by a Pirates occurred in Busch Stadium against the St. Louis Cardinals with Daryle Ward and Jason Kendall each accomplishing the feat.
This also is the third cycle this season — Freddie Freeman of the Atlanta Braves (June 15) and Rajai Davis of the Cleveland Indians (July 2) also accomplished the feat.
“It really didn’t dawn on me until I was standing on the base and looking at (Rick) Sofield,” Jaso said about his triple. “Then it hit me.”
Jaso batted sixth in this game and made his first place appearance when he led off the second inning with a single off Chicago starter Jake Arrieta.
In the fourth inning, Jaso made Arrieta pay for hitting Matt Joyce and allowing a single to Sean Rodriguez when the first baseman hit a 2-2 curveball over the Clemente Wall in right field for his seventh home run of the season.
Jaso had seen a couple of curveballs in his first at-bat and that, in combination with a missed location on the pitch, equaled the home run.
In the fifth inning, Jaso checked off the double when he was able to record a two-bagger off Arrieta with two outs to plate Rodriguez, the first of three runs that inning.
Then came the triple.
Jaso was actually unsure whether his seventh-inning hit would be a triple. He thought the ball would get stuck under the center field wall, and he only rounded second base when he saw the Cubs were having trouble getting the ball out.
The seventh-inning triple also provided some comfort for the Pirates, whose lead was cut to 7-4 before that triple brought home Rodriguez, the eighth run of the evening.
All of this was in support for Pittsburgh starter Jameson Taillon (5-4), who wanted to show the Cubs he belonged in the major leagues. He did just that, pitching six innings of one-hit baseball.
Taillon had an uncharacteristic three walks in this game, but he had nine ground ball outs and a game score of 63.
His lone mistake was an Anthony Rizzo home run, the second of the first baseman’s season. This play was upheld after an umpire review for possible right field fan interference.
Taillon out-dueled Arrieta (18-8), who has struggled of late.
Arrieta has previously dominated the Pirates, but his last three starts against them have been anything but effective. He is 0-2 with an 8.47 ERA and 5 home runs allowed in his last three starts versus the Pirates.
The Pirates will play their final regular season home game Thursday night when Pittsburgh’s Ivan Nova (12-8, 4.37 ERA) faces Chicago’s Mike Zastryzny (1-0, 0.79 ERA). This will be Nova’s first career start against the Cubs.
Image credit: Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire