When asked his thoughts before his MLB debut Saturday, Pirates shortstop Cole Tucker joked, “If I could run back and tell second-grade Cole Tucker that this is happening, he would freak out.”
That young Cole Tucker would have been jumping for joy to see how his MLB debut ended. In his third career at-bat, Tucker drove a pitch from Giants starter Derek Holland 431 feet into the wind to almost dead center field for his first career home run and hit.
That two-run homer gave the Pirates a 3-1 lead in the fifth, and fans roared to get Tucker out for an encore. He emerged from the dugout, pumped his fists, patted his chest and pointed at the crowd.
“I was so excited to do it that I got out there and just was floored with emotion, man,” Tucker said afterward. “It was loud. People were screaming. It was really, really, really cool.”
The game, which had been played under apocalyptic-looking storm clouds filled with lightning flashes, was delayed a short time later. After a lengthy delay, the game was called, giving the Pirates their fifth straight win.
Pirates fans had already started celebrating their new hero. The 22-year-old Tucker, rated the organization’s No. 5 overall prospect by MLB.com, came out of the dugout during the rain delay to sign autographs and pose for photos.
It’s been that kind of feel-good year so far for the first-place Pirates (12-6), who have a one-game lead over the Brewers in the NL Central. The pitching has been sensational, with Pirates starters boasting a 1.96 ERA, second only to Tampa Bay’s 1.89 mark. Jameson Taillon earned his first win of the season Saturday, going five innings and allowing only four hits and that one run.
The offense has struggled, but three of the team’s top four outfielders, Gregory Polanco, Corey Dickerson and Lonnie Chisenhall, have played a combined four games this season. And center fielder Starling Marte (abdominal strain) was placed on the 10-day IL after colliding with shortstop Erik Gonzalez as the two chased a popup in Friday’s game.
Gonzalez was placed on the 60-day IL with a fractured clavicle, opening the door for Tucker’s unexpected recall and MLB debut.
He showed he was ready.
Studs of the Night
Twins left fielder Eddie Rosario went 5 for 9 with three home runs and five RBIs as Minnesota swept the Orioles in a doubleheader. Second baseman Jonathan Schoop had a pair of homer and four RBIs in the second game.
Christian Yelich hit a pair of solo homers – extending his MLB-leading total to 13 – as the Brewers beat the Dodgers 5-0.
Andrew Benintendi hit a second-inning grand slam and then drove in the winning run with a sacrifice fly in the ninth in Boston’s 6-5 victory over the Rays.
First baseman Rowdy Tellez had three hits – including a homer – and three RBIs in five at-bats in Toronto’s 10-1 win over the Athletics.
Duds of the Night
Athletics right-hander Mike Fiers was shellacked by the Blue Jays, giving up six runs and nine hits – including two home runs – over 3 1/3 innings. His 8.28 ERA is the highest among MLB pitchers with 20-plus innings this year.
Nationals ace Max Scherzer gave up six earned runs and 11 hits in 5 1/3 innings in a loss to the Marlins.
Blue Jays shortstop Freddy Galvis makes the play of the week (month?) with this barehanded catch.
Rockies left fielder Raimel Tapia turns on the afterburners to complete this inside-the-park home run.
Red Sox (8-13) at Rays (14-7), 2:10 p.m. ET – Tyler Glasnow, who came over to the Rays in the Chris Archer trade last year, is off to one of the most surprising starts in baseball. While the right-hander looked overmatched and had control issues in his first two seasons with the Pirates, he has improved his control, with great results (4-0, 1.13 ERA, 0.88 WHIP). He’s one of the reasons the Rays sit atop the AL East. The Red Sox will counter with veteran David Price (1-1, 3.79 ERA).