Polanco key in Pittsburgh Pirates 5-3 win over Colorado Rockies


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The Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the Colorado Rockies 5-3 on Friday thanks to an outstanding game in the batter’s box and in the field by Gregory Polanco. Polanco had three hits and two outfield assists, including cutting down the potential winning run at home late in the game. The win is Pittsburgh’s third win in a row and puts their record at 78-49 heading into Saturday’s game.

The Pirates took the lead in the first inning when Jung Ho Kang singled to score Andrew McCutchen, who reached base on a single and then swiped his seventh base of the season. Kang added a second RBI on the night with a double in the third inning that brought in Polanco. Like his teammate, Polanco tested Nick Hundley‘s arm and was successful, stealing his 22nd base of the year.

Liriano got into some trouble in the fifth inning by walking Kyle Parker and then firing off a wild pitch that moved him to second. With Parker on third after a sacrifice fly by Brandon Barnes, Jose Reyes hit his third home run since returning to the National League to tie the game.

The Pirates regained the lead in their half of the inning, but it did not last long. Polanco began the inning with a double and went to third on a wild pitch by Jon Gray. Starling Marte scored Polanco with a sacrifice fly, but Colorado tied the game in the sixth when Carlos Gonzalez hit a blast to the seats just to the right of center field.

The Rockies were poised to keep the inning going when Hundley singled off of the Clemente Wall. But he took too wide of a turn around first and Polanco got the ball back to the infield quickly and got him going back to first for the rare 9-6-3 putout. The Pirates seemed to catch a break in the bottom of the sixth when DJ LeMahieu dropped the most routine of routine pop ups but Pittsburgh did not capitalize on the opportunity.

Colorado had Reyes on third in the top of the eighth when Nolan Arenado hit a fly ball to right field. Reyes elected to test the arm of Polanco and was nailed at home by a throw that was on the money. In the bottom of the eighth, Clint Hurdle elected to go for it and use just about all the remaining position players.

Scott Oberg struck out Neil Walker to begin the inning but then walked Francisco Cervelli and Pedro Alvarez. Sean Rodriguez came in to run for Alvarez and Aramis Ramirez was called upon to pinch hit for Jordy Mercer. He moved Cervelli to third  which allowed pinch hitter Josh Harrison to follow up with a single and give Pittsburgh a slim lead. Polanco padded the lead with a run scoring single, and that was more than Mark Melancon would need. He sat the three hitters he faced down to secure the win and his 42nd save of the season.

What Stood Out

Polanco continues to be one of the hottest bats in the lineup lately and on Friday added some defensive highlights to the game. He has turned into a consistent threat at the top of the lineup and showed that team’s should reconsider testing his arm with his assists in right field.

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Liriano was sharp for the first few innings but the Rockies were able to play small ball to get the runner to third in the fifth and score on the two run home run. He still registered a quality start for the game, but he has a 15/9 K/BB ratio in his last three starts, so it would be nice to see the walks start to trend down and the strikeouts trend up.

What’s Next

The three game series continues Saturday at 7:05pm when Chris Rusin and J.A. Happ face off. Rusin threw a complete game shutout against San Diego on August 16th and then got absolutely hammered in his next start, giving up 11 runs in two innings against New York. Happ has pitched six scoreless innings in his last two starts and has looked much better since his first start after coming to Pittsburgh.

Next: Series Review: Pittsburgh Pirates vs Marlins