The Pittsburgh Pirates have been a bad baseball team for a long time. Closer Joel Hanrahan is working hard to change that fact.
ESPN The Magazine wrote a section last week about the study conducted by Retrosheet founder Dave Smith who looked at games from 1944 to 2003, plus 13 seasons before WWII concentrating on the strategy of inserting a specific pitcher to get the final three outs. According to the article, the Pittsburgh Pirates have won 94.7% of those games it led when entering the ninth.
Joel Hanrahan is a perfectionist trying to improve upon those numbers. He is nine for ten in save opportunities after the strongest performance we have watched this season.
With the Pirates clinging to a 4-3 lead thanks to a pair of two-run bombs from Andrew McCutchen, the right hander stood on the mound in all of his glory. He started Tigers CF Don Kelly off with a 95-mile per hour heater for strike one, got Kelly to foul one back for the second strike. Kelly then battled the Bucs closer before he popped out to third baseman Pedro Alvarez for the first out.
A quick two strikes to Andy Dirks set the stage for the 98-mile-an-hour fastball that whiffed the Tigers outfielder.
Miguel Cabrera stepped to the plate with two hits in the game and worked The Hanrictator for a base on balls. A tweet from Hanrahan’s brother noted that Cabrera had success dating back to A-level ball against the right hander. Perhaps that was lingering on the mind of the Bucs closer, so did he actually mentally work around Miggy to get to Prince?
Who knows. Dictators do what they want.
So up stepped Prince Fielder with the Detroit crowd on their feet roaring in anticipation. (Prince had three walks and was 3-for-8 with two strikeouts in his career)
Fielder fell behind 0-2 and the man with four career walkoffs could only say “nice” and give a nod after he whiffed on a nasty slider.
We’re in good hands Pittsburgh.