PITTSBURGH -- Michael Chavis stepped to the plate with one goal in mind: help plate the winning run. In a sense, he did just that. Just not in the way he expected.
With Chavis standing in the batter’s box, Bryan Reynolds scored the game-winning run in the bottom of the 10th inning on Matt Bush’s wild pitch in the dirt. Reynolds crossed the plate without having to hustle all that hard. The Pirates, with a 5-4 walk-off win, had swept the Brewers, and Chavis, trying to figure out the appropriate way to celebrate, tossed his helmet in the air and stretched his arms out toward the sky.
"I'm not sure if I've ever had that happen, to be honest,” Chavis said after Pittsburgh’s second sweep of the season.
Added manager Derek Shelton: “Full team victory. A lot of people played a big part of it. It’s nice to come out of the [Trade] Deadline and play that well for three games.”
There are several plays from this game that are worth highlighting, but the one that supersedes them all was manufactured by Pittsburgh’s defensive maestro.
The Brewers had loaded the bases in the top of the ninth inning with one out. Tyrone Taylor pulled Colin Holderman’s 2-1 cutter down the third-base line. If the ball made its way to the outfield, two runs, at the minimum, were scoring. But Ke’Bryan Hayes had other plans.
Hayes lunged at the ball. The ball found his glove. Hayes calmly stepped on third base for one out, then threw across the diamond to first base for two. Double play. Inning over. Crisis averted.
Hayes’s teammates were ecstatic. PNC Park was thrilled. Hayes? He jogged back into the dugout as if the play was routine.
“I expect myself to make every play, especially if I can get a glove on it,” Hayes said.
“I don’t think he ever gets too high or too low,” Shelton said, “but a play of that magnitude at that time, I think everybody in the ballpark was like, ‘Holy cow. That’s unbelievable.’
“We get spoiled. We see maybe the best defender on the planet almost every night. This guy’s special.”
The Pirates entered the bottom of the ninth inning with another opportunity to walk it off against Devin Williams, but the Brewers’ All-Star set-up-man-turned closer did not fold for a second straight game. Williams threw a zero up on the scoreboard, and to extra innings the game went.
Shelton called on Duane Underwood Jr., who recorded the first two outs in the top of the 10th inning. With the automatic runner still on second, the next three batters reached base without having to swing the bat. Intentional walk. Walk. Hit-by-pitch. The Brewers then had themselves a one-run lead.
Milwaukee looked as if it was going to add to the lead when Hunter Renfroe pulled a sinking line drive to left field, but Ben Gamel got a beat on the ball and made a diving catch, keeping the Pirates within striking range.
On the very first pitch of the 10th inning, Reynolds, less than 24 hours removed from hitting a walk-off home run off of Williams, drove in automatic runner Tucupita Marcano with a ground-rule double. The tying run was in. The winning run was on second.
“He just missed hitting another homer,” Shelton said. “Got a ball on the barrel. I think it shows the caliber of hitter he is, because he kept a curveball fair. Off the bat, I think he even thought it was going to hook and it just stayed true, which, you have to be a good hitter for that to happen.”
Gamel, who followed Reynolds, was intentionally walked, opening up the opportunity for a double play. Hayes flied out. Oneil Cruz, whose 118.4 mph single earlier in the game became the hardest-hit ball by a Pirate since the advent of Statcast in 2015, was also intentionally walked. That brought Chavis to the plate with the chance to win the game. By laying off Bush’s 0-2 curveball, he did just that.
“[We’re] headed in the right direction,” Hayes said. “Just have to build off this series whenever we go on the road for this long road stretch.”