Saturday, June 28, 2014

Game of the Day (6/27/14)

Pirates 3, Mets 2 (11). Pittsburgh's Brandon Cumpton took on New York's Jacob deGrom. It was Cumpton's 14th career start - and he was the relative veteran in the matchup, as deGrom was making just his ninth big league appearance.

Both neophytes began the game in fine form. Cumpton was perfect in the first, cancelled a walk with a double play in the second, and allowed a Travis d'Arnaud single and a sac bunt in the third before leaving the runner at second. deGrom had only a bit more trouble; he walked Gregory Polanco and removed him with a double play in the first, then allowed a single, a walk, and an HBP in the second, escaping with the help of another twin killing. A perfect third inning later, the game's first trimester had passed with no score.

The game's first runs came across in the top of the fourth when Ruben Tejada singled, Daniel Murphy doubled, and Lucas Duda singled them both home. But the Pirates tied it in the bottom of the inning; Andrew McCutchen and Russell Martin singled, Pedro Alvarez walked to load the bases with two outs, and Jordy Mercer singled home a pair of runs. Cumpton allowed hits to Juan Lagares and d'Arnaud in the top of the fifth, but deGrom bunted into a force and the next two hitters were retired to end the inning. deGrom was perfect in the fifth and sixth, while Cumpton worked around a K/WP to Chris Young in the sixth and retired the Mets in order in the seventh.

deGrom allowed a leadoff hit to Alvarez in the seventh, and was pulled two outs later for Josh Edgin, who finished of the scoreless inning. Justin Wilson relieved Cumpton in the eighth and worked around a Tejada walk, while Edgin and Jeurys Familia combined on a spotless bottom of the inning. Eric Campbell and d'Arnaud both singled against Mark Melancon in the ninth, but Bobby Abreu grounded out to leave runners at the corners; Jenrry Mejia then allowed a leadoff hit to Martin before retiring the next three Pirates to send the game to extras.

Jared Hughes allowed a two-out Murphy single in the top of the tenth, but the runner was then caught stealing. Mejia had a far more eventful bottom of the inning, starting with a single and steal by Josh Harrison. Polanco then grounded back to the mound, and Mejia caught Harrison leaning off of second and started a rundown. Harrison proceeded to jitterbug back and forth, eluding multiple tag attempts, and slid safely in at third after an evasion process that lasted long enough for Polanco to reach second. With the winning run at third and nobody out, Mejia struck out Travis Snider, intentionally walked McCutchen, struck out Neil Walker, and got Russell Martin to fly out to end an extremely adventurous inning.

Hughes was perfect in the eleventh, and Vic Black replaced Mejia in the bottom of the inning; he walked Clint Barmes with one out, then served up a two-out walkoff double to Harrison.

Josh Harrison certainly had an interesting day. His single, steal, and successful evasion of a rundown in the tenth (which happens what, 2% of the time or less?) created a marvelous scoring opportunity, and it also made the inning last long enough to bring him to the plate again an inning later, at which point he picked up the game-winning hit. The combination gives him a WPA of +.559, the second-highest of his career; he finished just shy of the career high he established only 10 days earlier. Not bad for someone who entered the game as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning and struck out with a runner in scoring position in a tie game his first time up.

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