PHOENIX -- For two seconds, Pirates right fielder Gregory Polanco thought he had broken up D-backs ace Zack Greinke's no-hitter Thursday night at Chase Field. Three pitches later, Polanco straightened out and did it for real.Greinke pounded Polanco inside all night, and the first at-bat of the eighth inning was
PHOENIX -- For two seconds, Pirates right fielder Gregory Polanco thought he had broken up D-backs ace Zack Greinke's no-hitter Thursday night at Chase Field. Three pitches later, Polanco straightened out and did it for real.
Greinke pounded Polanco inside all night, and the first at-bat of the eighth inning was no different. Polanco shortened his swing enough to pull a 1-0 fastball deep into the right-field seats, but it was just foul. Polanco gathered himself and launched a 2-2 slider into the stands, this time on the correct side of the foul pole, for his first home run of the season and the Pirates' only hit of the night in a 2-1 loss to the D-backs.
"Wow. Unbelievable," Polanco said of the long foul ball. "But I said, 'Well, I have to keep fighting, because the at-bat is not over. I have to keep fighting.' I found my pitch, and I hit it well."
Greinke's 83.5-mph slider came off Polanco's bat with an exit velocity of 103.1 mph, according to Statcast™, and landed a projected 417 feet away. Polanco dropped his bat and kept his right arm raised as he started to run out of the batter's box.
"Just put a good swing on the ball, try to stay with the ball as long as I can," Polanco said. "He threw a slider, but kind of hanging."
Polanco felt good, momentarily, about the swing that produced the long foul ball. Polanco saw 11 pitches from Greinke in his first at-bat and two more -- both down and in -- in the fifth inning.
But the Pirates had no hits entering the seventh, a recurring theme for a club that has now scored 19 runs over the last nine games, as Greinke mowed down Pittsburgh's scuffling lineup with well-located fastballs and unhittable sliders.
"He's a good pitcher, but we had to fight," Polanco said. "What can I say? He had a good night."
Greinke faced the minimum through seven innings, bringing up Polanco to lead off the eighth. As Polanco's towering fly ball soared overhead, D-backs right fielder David Peralta waved it foul as he jogged toward the wall. Sure enough, first-base umpire Ed Hickox signaled it was foul.
"I was blowing hard, so I think that worked," Peralta said.
What about the ensuing home run?
"I didn't blow that hard," Peralta said, laughing. "I was out of breath."
Struggling to produce in the cleanup spot for more than a month to start the season, Polanco's confidence grew as his swing shortened. He focused on keeping his hands in and staying inside Greinke's pitches.
"All his pitches, and the breaking ball, he was throwing inside," Polanco said. "You have to make an adjustment."
The adjustment worked, and Polanco trotted around the bases for the first time since Sept. 16, 2016. With one swing, he had broken up a seemingly inevitable no-hitter, snapped a 148 at-bat homerless streak and accounted for all of the Pirates' offense against Greinke.
"Hopefully they come in bunches now, because it's taken a while to get there," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "He stayed in the hunt, kept his nose in there, was able to drive another ball that gave him an opportunity to drive.
"He's working. He knows what he's capable of doing, knows what he's been doing. He wants to add more, but we can't over-try. We need to stay in a good spot, a confident spot, and I see the confidence starting to build."
Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast.