Stats & Info: Gregory Polanco

Pirates break out long ball to beat Dodgers

July, 23, 2014

AP PhotoNeil Walker rounds the bases after hitting the first of the Pirates' three home runs on Tuesday.
It had been a long time since the Pirates had hit three home runs in a game. Since Pittsburgh last did this April 17 against the Brewers, every other team in the majors has hit three homers in a game at least once. The Blue Jays have done it 13 times.

Gregory Polanco went 2-for-4 with a home run, three runs and three RBIs. The home run was his first since July 2, a span of 14 games. Over that span Polanco went without an extra-base hit and hit .158 with two RBIs.

During his slump, Polanco struggled in particular with the inside pitch, going just 1-for-18 (.056) in at-bats ending with a pitch on the inner half. Both of his hits on Tuesday came on inside pitches.

Another Pirate to break a homerless drought was Ike Davis, who went deep for the first time since June 9. Over 32 homerless games Davis hit .205 with a .582 OPS.

During his homerless stretch, Davis oddly hit nearly 150 points better on pitches out of the strike zone (.313) than he did on pitches in the zone (.177). Davis' home run on Tuesday came on a fastball in the strike zone.

Neil Walker also homered for the Pirates, though he has not had trouble with the long ball as of late. His 15th homer of the season was his fourth in his last 10 games, and leaves him one shy of his career high.

The three homers all came off Dodgers starter Josh Beckett, who struggled in his return from the disabled list. Beckett, who had allowed just two home runs in his previous six starts combined, lasted a season-low 3 2/3 innings on Tuesday.

Pittsburgh is now 28-17 since the start of June (second-best in the National League) and has closed within 2.5 games of the Brewers in the NL Central. The Pirates have enjoyed playing at PNC Park this season, improving to an NL-best 33-21 at home, including wins in 13 of their last 16 games.

The rubber game of the series comes on Wednesday night as Dan Haren takes on Francisco Liriano. The Pirates will look to continue their power surge against Haren, who has allowed 20 home runs this season, which is tied for second-most in the major leagues.

Top stats to know: Pirates at Cardinals

July, 9, 2014

AP Photo/J Pat CarterSince making his major league debut, Gregory Polanco has reached base safely in 24 of his 27 games.
The Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals play the third game of their four-game series tonight at Busch Stadium (8 ET on ESPN/WatchESPN). The Cardinals won the first two games of the series with consecutive walk-off home runs.

Here are some storylines our broadcast crew will touch upon tonight.

Pirates Starting Pitching

After play on June 20, the Pirates were 35-38 and nine games out of first in the NL Central. Since that time, Pittsburgh has won 12 of its past 17 games to move within 4½ games of the Milwaukee Brewers.

Pittsburgh was expected to start Gerrit Cole, but he will be placed on the 15-day disabled list due to a tight lat muscle. Cole has pitched well against the Cardinals in his career, with a 2.16 ERA in four career starts (two in the regular season, two in the postseason).

Expected to take his place is Brandon Cumpton, who will be recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis. Cumpton has made nine starts for the Pirates this season and has gone 3-2 with a 4.61 ERA. He has one career start against St. Louis, a 6-0 Pittsburgh win on July 30, 2013, in which he threw seven shutout innings.

Lance Lynn’s Fastball

This season, Lance Lynn is using his fastball 78.6 percent of the time. Only Bartolo Colón (81.7 percent) uses the pitch more.

Last year, Lynn was second in the majors in the stat, but he has increased his usage this season.

Gregory Polanco Channeling His Inner Barry Bonds

Since his MLB debut on June 10, Polanco has reached base safely in 24 of his 27 games. Included in that was an 11-game hitting streak to begin his career, the longest such streak in franchise history.

Overall, the start of his career is eerily similar to that of another Pirates outfielder -- Barry Bonds.

Matt Holiday Struggles

Matt Holliday is having one of the worst seasons of his career. His batting average (.260), slugging percentage (.375) and at-bats per home run (64.6) are the lowest in his career, while his on-base percentage (.366) is his worst since 2005, his second year in the majors.

Kernels: One day at a time

June, 16, 2014
Our weekly look at the interesting and unusual in Major League Baseball shows us that something new happens every day.

Lonnie Chisenhall
The Cleveland Indians put up a football score on the Texas Rangers, winning 17-7, but it was Lonnie Chisenhall who was the talk of the game. Chisenhall went 5-for-5 with three homers and drove in nine of those 17 runs. It was the first nine-RBI game in the majors since Carlos Delgado in 2008, and just the second Clevelander ever. Infielder Chris James did it in a 20-6 rout of Oakland in 1991. And the last player with five hits, three homers, and nine RBI in a game was Jim Rice, who knocked in 10 of Boston's 15 runs against Detroit on June 18, 1975.

Rangers starter Nick Martinez gave up eight runs before Scott Baker came on and allowed the other nine. They're the first pair of pitchers in franchise history to each allow eight or more runs in a game.

The Braves scored seven in the first inning as part of a 13-10 slugfest in Colorado. Their last time scoring seven or more in the first inning of a road game was way back on July 3, 1966, at Candlestick Park. Joe Torre had a three-run shot and pitcher Tony Cloninger hit a grand slam in a 17-3 win over the Giants. Cloninger would hit another slam in the fourth inning, and is still the only pitcher ever with two in a game.

Juan Nicasio was charged with 10 runs on 11 hits Tuesday, after giving up seven runs on 11 hits in his prior start. He and John Thomson (1998) are the only Rockies pitchers to give up at least 11 hits and seven earned runs in back-to-back starts.

Reid Brignac's three-run homer gave the Philadelphia Phillies a 3-0 walk-off victory over the San Diego Padres. It was just the second game this season where the only scoring came on a walk-off homer, the other being Neil Walker's solo shot on Opening Day.

However, the Phillies hadn't won such a game in over four decades. On July 28, 1972, Willie Montañez hit a two-run shot off Milt Pappas to beat the Chicago Cubs.

Chris Carter's walk-off home run gave the Houston Astros a 5-4 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks. Carter had gone deep twice the day before. According to Elias, he is the first Astros hitter ever to follow a two-homer game with a walk-off homer.

The top of the 10th featured a catcher's interference giving Paul Goldschmidt first base; it's his fourth such award this season. That already ties last year's leader, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Goldy's career total of five matches Craig Counsell's franchise record. Two of this year's calls, and three of his total, have come in extra innings, making Goldschmidt the first player in the live-ball era with two extra-inning CI's in a season, and tying Dale Berra of the Pirates (1979-81) for the career mark.

Gregory Polanco
Playing in just his fourth major-league game, Gregory Polanco of the Pittsburgh Pirates went 5-for-7 and cranked a 13th-inning homer to beat the Miami Marlins, 8-6. Polanco became the first player in over 80 years with a five-hit game so early in his career (Cecil Travis of the Senators did it in his debut in 1933), and the first Pirate with five hits including an extra-inning homer since Hall of Famer Pie Traynor in 1930.

The game was just the fourth in the last 100 years to go exactly 13 innings on a Friday the 13th. The Pirates have been the winning team in three of those.

Brandon Barnes of the Colorado Rockies hit his second inside-the-park home run of the season. He's the first Colorado batter ever with two in a season, and the first in the majors since Tony Gwynn Jr. in 2010. Clint Barmes and Ellis Burks are the only other players with two in a Rockies uniform (neither in the same season).

It was the seventh inside-the-park homer at AT&T Park, but just the second by a visiting player. Fernando Viña of the Cardinals hit the other one in the stadium's 16th game on May 9, 2000.

The Astros moved reliever Tony Sipp to the outfield so that lefty Josh Zeid could face (and strike out) the Rays' Evan Longoria. At the start of the next inning, Sipp returned to the mound and recorded two more outs.

It's the second time this week that Bo Porter has moved Sipp to the outfield for one batter, a stunt the Astros also did a couple times with Wesley Wright.

The last non-Houston team to try it was the Cubs, who moved Sean Marshall to left for one batter at the end of a 2009 doubleheader. But Sipp is the first player in the designated-hitter era (1973) to go from the mound to the field and back again multiple times in one season.

Polanco's 1st HR memorable, historic

June, 14, 2014
Gregory Polanco was able to take advantage of pitches down in the zone.
Pittsburgh Pirates rookie outfielder Gregory Polanco had a pretty good week’s worth of work in Friday’s win over the Miami Marlins.

In his fourth career game, Polanco had five hits, including the game-winning home run in the 13th inning.

The Elias Sports Bureau noted that Polanco had five hits and a homer in a game quicker than any other player in baseball’s modern era (since 1900).

He became the first player in 81 years to have five hits in a game within the first four games of his career, since Cecil Travis of the 1933 Washington Senators (who had five hits in his debut). He's also the first Pirates player to have at least eight hits in the first four games of his career since Jack Merson in 1951.

How he hit
All five of Polanco’s hits shared a common thread. They came on pitches in the lower-half of the strike zone or below.

Prior to Friday, Polanco was hitless in eight at-bats ending with a lower-half pitch.

Polanco had four two-strike hits, two against fastballs, two against breaking balls. He was 1 for 6 with three strikeouts in two-strike counts prior to Friday.

One hot outfield
Pirates outfielders are now hitting .471 (32-for-68) with five home runs and 18 RBIs in the last 5 games (all best in the majors).

Polanco's teammate, Andrew McCutchen now has six straight multi-hit games and is hitting .409 with six home runs in June.

In the last 100 years, there have been four 13-inning games played on a Friday the 13th. The Pirates have been involved in (and won) three of them.