Tarp Diem: Bucs seize the way to help crew, grab W
Players help rescue trapped grounds crew member
PITTSBURGH -- There were two outs in the top of the third inning during the Pirates' 3-2 win over the Padres on Tuesday night at PNC Park when the rain finally drove both teams off the field and 21,887 fans toward any available shelter.
As usual, the grounds crew rushed toward the tarp, rolled up by the seats down the third-base line, and quickly began to unroll it. But the storm over Pittsburgh rolled in even quicker, and strong gusts of wind wreaked havoc on the grounds crew's work.
Andrew McCutchen and Sean Rodriguez stopped on their way into the home dugout due to a similar thought.
"A lot of wind and not enough help," McCutchen said afterward. "Guys needed some help. We knew it was going to happen."
The tarp blew around, out of the grounds crew's control, and wrapped up field maintenance supervisor Matt Gerhardt. McCutchen, Rodriguez and Gregory Polanco sprang into action, rushing toward the tarp and helping pull it toward home plate so the trapped worker could escape safely.
"It's usually on the blooper reel," Rodriguez said. "Obviously, we just have to go help him at that point."
The Pirates-turned-grounds-crew didn't stop there. McCutchen knelt near third base to help hold down the tarp. Rodriguez continued to work, pulling the tarp and putting the "utility" in utility man.
"They call me a jack-of-all-trades, right?" Rodriguez quipped.
"I didn't know he was going to come out as calm as he did. I was just thinking, 'pull off as much tarp as I can, see if I can't lighten up whatever might have wrapped him up.'"
The Pirates' relievers chipped in as well, stopping to hold down the tarp on their way in from the bullpen. Jared Hughes and Tony Watson were familiar with the process, as most college baseball players are required to roll out the tarp on their home field.
"So we just dropped our stuff and went to hold it down," Hughes said, "because those things have a mind of their own when they get up in the air."
So Hughes and company sat there for several minutes, kneeling or standing on the tarp in their Pirates hoodies as the rain poured down around them.
Eventually, the grounds crew wrestled the tarp into submission and nailed it to the ground -- with a little help from the home team.
"They saw the guy go underneath. They wanted to help out," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "They were right on the spot. Leaders make moves. Both those guys reacted right spot-on. They didn't wait around. Caution to the wind, go out there and try to help. Proud of 'em."