SAN FRANCISCO -- The identity of a team is established not with words, but action.
Through a combination of patience and hustle, the Pirates grinded out three go-ahead runs in the seventh inning without a single hit in their 6-4 win over the Giants on Friday at Oracle Park. It wasn’t the standard formula for a victory, but that decisive frame ultimately served as a shining example of this club’s budding culture.
“You don’t score three runs very often without a hit,” said manager Derek Shelton. “What you saw in that inning is something that’s really important for us organizationally.”
Pittsburgh entered the seventh inning having just been punched in the gut. Chad Kuhl pitched well for most of his outing, tying his career-high of eight strikeouts, but on his 94th and final pitch of the evening, he allowed a game-tying, two-run homer to Alex Dickerson. The home crowd exploded. Kuhl hung his head.
With the game tied at three going into the later innings, Dickerson’s home run could’ve sent Pittsburgh spiraling. Instead, the Pirates grinded.
Jacob Stallings drew a leadoff walk. Kevin Newman grounded into what could’ve been a double play, but Stallings hustled hard to beat the throw to second and Newman beat the throw to first. Wilmer Difo drew a walk, and Adam Frazier drew a bases-loaded walk, “driving in” Stallings. Without a hit, the Pirates plated a run.
That one run looked like the only one that Pittsburgh was going to end up with. Ke’Bryan Hayes hit a chopper to Thairo Estrada, who threw Newman out at the plate for the forceout. Bryan Reynolds, who already had a homer, struck out looking. With two outs but the bases still loaded, Ben Gamel hit a weak ground ball to first base. The inning appeared to be over. What ensued, instead, was a stroke of luck that propelled Pittsburgh to a win.
Instead of the inning ending, first baseman LaMonte Wade Jr. fumbled Gamel’s grounder. Frazier didn’t take the play for granted and sprinted on contact. As the ball rolled away from Wade, Frazier kept on charging, rounding third and sliding in safely at home. At 28.3 feet per second, Frazier’s dash from second to home was tied for his third-fastest sprint speed this year, per Statcast.
Without so much as a single hit, the Pirates plated three runs to defeat baseball’s best team.
“You see Jacob Stallings go hard into second. They don’t turn a double play,” Shelton said. “You see Ke’Bryan bust his butt on a ground ball where it could have been a double play. You see Frazier score from second on that. You see Gamel go hard down the line.
“I think it’s a testament to our group because we had given up two runs, given up the lead, then they came right back and they really played hard. Kudos to these guys.”
If the idea of a game-deciding, odd seventh inning sounds familiar, that’s because Pittsburgh was on the receiving end of some lunacy just three days ago.
The Pirates took a two-run lead into the bottom of the seventh inning against the Diamondbacks, but allowed eight runs, resulting in one of the three defeats Pittsburgh suffered when it was swept in Arizona by the league’s worst team by record.
“It was a good response for us,” Reynolds said. “We had the off-day to clear our heads a little bit and hit the restart button. It was good to come out here against a good team and get a win.”