The Pittsburgh Pirates entered the final of a 3 game series against the Padres Sunday afternoon after surprisingly dropping the first 2 games. Like the previous 2 the Padres opened up the first inning with a homerun, followed by 3 more runs on 2 hits. Things looked glum entering the bottom of the 4th inning as the Pirates trailed 5-1 and opposing pitcher Ross Ohlendorf seemingly in control of the game.
The Pirates loaded the bases after a walk, an error, and a Pedro Alvarez single, with no outs Ohlendorf then walked Michael Mckenry to plate a run, thus bringing up shortstop Clint Barmes. Barmes worked the count to 2-2 and on an 84 mph changeup he got the grand salami off the left field foul post to give the Buccos the lead. With great defense the rest of the way that was all the Pirates would need to win the game, but thats not all they got. The “Battling Buccos” ended up scoring 9 in the 4th inning and added a run in the 7th on Neil Walkers 14th homerun to finish off San Diego 11 to 5.
Clint Barmes produced his first grand-slam in his 12 year career to become the unlikely hero for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Why so unlikely you ask? Well could it be that he is only batting .217, or the fact that he only has 5 homeruns on the season, or maybe his lowly 28 RBI’s has something to do with it? Either way Barmes, like many of the Pirates have done this season, became the games hero. The Pirates needed a shot like that to boost their morales entering a 4 game series with the L.A. Dodgers, who swept them in their first meeting back in May.
Pittsburgh boasts a 36 and 20 home record but have gone 3-4 in this current home-stand and things are beginning to show signs of last seasons plummet out of contention. The pitching is starting to struggle as the strain of a long season begins to wear on the Pirates starters. Andrew McCutchen has finally come down to earth and has only hit 1 homerun in the month of August. The Pirates were begging for someone to lift their spirits as their season seemingly hung in the balance, and that is where Clint Barmes came in and brought them back to life. Following the grand slam everyone began hitting and scoring runs, and the Pirates looked like they did during June and early July.
Clint Barmes and the Pirates need to carry this good feeling into the next series if they hope to keep up with the Cincinnati Reds and stay ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals. They can’t afford to lose this series and should consider anything less than winning 3 out of 4 of these games a huge failure. There is one question yet to be answered as the Pirates and Dodgers prepare to face off, and that is who’s going to be the hero on Monday night?
Zach Helbling is a senior writer for chatsports.com who writes about Pittsburgh teams including Pirates, Steelers and Penguins. He works full time as a contractor in the Pittsburgh area and can be reached directly at email@example.com or follow him on twitter @DJZachyzach.