Team building is often used by corporations when times are tough, and last night the Pittsburgh Pirates carried out their own team building program. As hard as this might sound to believe, the Pirates defeated the defending National League champions by using Josh Harrison in left field, Jordy Mercer in right field, Jose Tabata in center field, and even Gaby Sanchez in right during the game. It was a game that brings up plenty of questions, but one that this team will talk about for a long time.
It wasn’t quite like building a boat out of cardboard and duct tape, or even a high ropes course. The team was just caught without the resources it needed–on this night, the Pirates were short a professional outfielder. Hoka Hey! Adapt and overcome! The players have to be beaming with confidence when they come to the park today. The team had a very difficult task and despite some serious obstacles they won.
The most challenging part of the Bucs situation is/was Andrew McCutchen has left foot soreness and couldn’t/didn’t start before a packed PNC Park. That put Starling Marte in center field. But Marte has had a tight back and after grounding out was pulled from the game.
Cue the teambuiding exercise! This put Tabata in center and without another outfielder on the bench, Gaby Sanchez grabbed an outfielders glove and went to play in front of the Clemente Wall in right. His late inning defensive replacement was Mercer who never played outfield in his life.
Sure it’s easy to criticize the team for being short-handed. The Pirates players were certainly scratching their heads that their leadership had put them in such a tough position. But it didn’t faze them, at least openly.
But guess what? It worked. The Cardinals couldn’t even hit a ball to right field, although Harrison did misplay a rocket shot in left that set up some late inning nail biting. The Bucs bullpen was far from perfect putting runners all over the basepaths after Edison Volquez was knocked out before the sixth inning. But in the end, Volquez, Jared Hughes, Justin Wilson, Tony Watson and Mark Melancon put up zeroes after the second inning.
Now the Bucs have the opportunity to sweep the Cardinals before heading out on a challenging road trip.
The Pirates roster has plenty of questions. Brent Morel was on the roster last night–he’s an infielder and with Travis Snider serving the final game of his suspension–an outfielder was needed. Gregory Polanco would look great, but the Bucs will call up Jaff Decker today instead. Another question is why is Wandy Rodriguez going to start Wednesday in Milwaukee?
Even with all of the questions, the team is getting it done between the lines. Games like this build character and confidence and that is exactly what the Bucs need. So it’s just like management envisioned with some team building pixie dust tossed on top ala 2013. Wonder what will happen today–a trust fall exercise?
Tags: Pittsburgh Pirates