When one player goes down, there is another player ready to step in and do the job.
Jordy Mercer’s back tightened up and has been unable to play the first two games of the series against the Red Sox. But as has been the case all year for the Pittsburgh Pirates, when one player goes down, another player is ready to step in and contribute.
Clint Barmes did so in a major way Wednesday night in the Pirates 9-1 victory over the Red Sox. Barmes had three hits and a number of solid defensive plays, that included starting two key double plays, ranging both directions for batted balls. Barmes’ two run double in the second inning created much-needed separation, giving the Pirates a comfortable 3-0 lead early.
“The game presents opportunities sometimes when nobody is expecting them,” Hurdle said regarding Barmes’ contributions tonight. “An opportunity presented itself [for Barmes]. He came in and played solid defense, made a couple of really nice plays tonight and swung the bat very well.”
Barmes is now hitting .253 on the season, and has provided enough offense that when an infielder goes down with an injury or needs a day off , there hasn’t been a big drop off offensively in the bottom of the lineup. With the limited amount of at bats Barmes is getting, staying prepared has not been easy.
“I show up and I expect to play. I show up and prepare like I’m going to have a chance to get in, and that’s all I can do. Fortunately, getting an opportunity and feeling the way that I do right now has been great,” Barmes said.
One of the best qualities of this team is that a new player steps up everyday. Travis Snider did it when Gregory Polanco was struggling. Vance Worley and Jeff Locke did it when Francisco Liriano and Gerrit Cole went down earlier in the year. Josh Harrison has been doing it all year, all over the field. Today, it was Barmes’ turn.
“There is a ton of talent in this clubhouse. You never know any given day who’s going to step up or what’s going to happen. It’s fun having a group of guys in here where you come in every night and you never know who is going to be the hero.”
That has been the case since day 1. Whether it be Tony Sanchez stepping up with multiple game-winning hits, or Chris Stewart putting the ball in play and scoring a key run against the Braves and tough relief pitcher in Jordan Walden, or Clint Barmes creating the necessary separation with a big double in tonight’s game. Almost every player on this roster has had a moment where they were asked to step up, and did so.
This is what winning baseball teams do. They get contributions all over the roster, and find ways to win ball games.