Bell delivers on anniversary of MLB debut

Bucs' first baseman goes 3-for-4, scores twice in win over Cubs

July 9th, 2017

CHICAGO -- Pirates first baseman Josh Bell was well aware of the anniversary. Even if he had forgotten, his mom had reminded him just a couple days earlier.

Going into Saturday's game, Bell had gone 4-for-8 against Cubs starter , including a key pinch-hit single in an 8-4 win in his Major League debut -- one year ago to the day.

Still, as he stood at the plate facing Arrieta in the sixth inning, the only thing he was focused on was the next pitch, his pitch -- a 92.4-mph cutter that stayed over the middle of the plate.

Bell ripped it to right-center, where it bounced into the ivy for a ground-rule double. He would be driven in moments later, scoring for the second time as the Pirates retook the lead from the Cubs in an eventual 4-2 win.

"You know I just like putting his name in the lineup and letting him play," manager Clint Hurdle said. "He's going to write the story to the season. There's no reason for me to get in front of myself with him. I just like what he does."

One major plus has been his power. With a pair of doubles on Saturday, Bell has 35 extra-base hits over the first half of the season, the most of any Pirates rookie going into the break. He holds the same distinction with his 16 first-half home runs and is four RBIs shy of tying another Pirates record as well.

"The power is real. That's playing out," Hurdle said earlier in the week. "The ability to drive in runs has shown up. ... He's a dangerous bat right now. And I think it's just been more experience with more recognition of pitches and pitchers and how they're attacking him."

He's certainly familiar enough with Arrieta.

After going 3-for-4 on Saturday, with two of the hits coming against Arrieta, he has the distinction of a .545 lifetime batting average against the righty, though he downplayed the meaning of the individual matchup.

"I'm just starting to trust my approach," Bell said. "I'm just trying to drive the ball back up the middle. ... I'm just trying to stay right there."

It certainly worked for him on Saturday.