Grinding every pitch, Davis lifts Pirates to sweep

No. 2 prospect goes 3-for-4 with two RBIs, extends hitting streak to seven in finale win

June 29th, 2023

PITTSBURGH -- When collected his first career hit in his Major League debut, he said that the achievement was cool, but emphasized that the Pirates didn’t win. Several days later, when Davis homered for the first time, he carried the same tone; the homer was neat, but they didn’t win the game. On a hazy, smoky Thursday afternoon at PNC Park, Davis enjoyed both individual and collective success.

Davis provided the go-ahead, opposite-field RBI single in the seventh inning to cap off the Pirates’ comeback from a four-run deficit in a 5-4 win over the Padres, securing their first sweep since the beginning of the month. Pittsburgh has had its struggles since Davis arrived in the Majors, and as a perpetual competitor, he's happy to enjoy the wins as they come.

“A lot of fun,” Davis said with an ear-to-ear smile.

Pittsburgh’s early outlook appeared as grim as the afternoon sky. The Padres put up a three-spot against Luis L. Ortiz in the second inning, capped off by Trent Grisham’s booming 419-foot home run. Two frames later, Ha-Seong Kim blasted a solo home run that extended the deficit to four runs. But from there, the Pirates began chipping away.

In the fourth, Nick Gonzales drove in Davis with a sacrifice fly. In the sixth, Davis brought home Andrew McCutchen with a single. Jack Suwinski tied the game up at four apiece in the seventh with a swinging-bunt hit that San Diego’s Tim Hill threw into right field, allowing Rodolfo Castro and Jared Triolo to score. Two batters later, Davis capped off the seventh with a bloop single to right field with two outs, allowing Suwinski to easily score the go-ahead run from second.

“It’s the big hits. It’s the small hits,” Davis said. "It’s the moving the guy over. It’s grinding out a seven-pitch out where you set a guy up and the pitcher’s a little more fatigued for the next inning, rest of the game. Things like that, they kind of just all add up.”

Ryan Borucki retired all four batters that he faced, stranding the bases loaded in the fifth inning by getting Brandon Dixon to fly out. Dauri Moreta, in his first appearance since allowing three runs without recording an out on June 22, pitched a scoreless, hitless seventh inning. Angel Perdomo recorded the first two outs of the eighth inning before allowing a two-out double to Kim. From there, David Bednar entered and recorded his first multi-inning save this season.

Bednar received an assist from third baseman Triolo to slam the door on San Diego. With two outs and a runner on first, Manny Machado hit a weak chopper to the left side. Bednar thought, off the bat, that Machado was going to reach with an infield single, but Triolo charged, fielded and fired to just get Machado at first base. Triolo made a fine play earlier in the game as well, backhanding Fernando Tatis Jr.’s grounder down the third-base line and unleashing a throw across the diamond for the out.

“I said some swear words after he hit it, because I was like, 'Damn, he's going to beat it,’” Bednar recalled. “And then after he called him out, he goes to me, 'You didn’t trust me?' That was an awesome play, and watching him just be comfortable over there and making all the plays, it's cool to watch guys make their debut and be able to step up and contribute. And we've had quite a few guys come up and do that. So it's really cool."

Davis has wasted no time acclimating himself to the Majors. With three hits on Thursday afternoon, he's batting .351/.415/.486 with a 150 wRC+ in 41 plate appearances. The 23-year-old rookie has a seven-game hitting streak and has reached base in all but one of his first 10 contests.

“He grinds through every at-bat,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. “You don’t see a lot of young players that come to the big leagues and their focus is every single pitch. I think that’s something we knew about him when we drafted him, and we’ve seen it all throughout the Minor Leagues. For a young player to not ever give away not only an at-bat, but a pitch, is why he’s had early success.”

Added McCutchen, “[The rookies] have been doing a good job making a huge impact already, and it’s only been a handful of games.”