Gamescape: Crafty run, another Harrison highlight
Pirates exploit shift to steal run; super utility man throws out runner at home
A survey of the Pirates' game, with a closer look at the insets to the big picture -- streaks, trends and subplots below the surface.
• A lot of theories have been advanced on how teams can use their bats to beat the infield shifting that has become prevalent. On Thursday night, the Pirates beat it with their feet, stealing the second run of a 5-2 victory over the Mets. With runners on the corners, Ike Davis intentionally got picked off first base and reversed his field halfway to second. Before Davis was tagged out, Andrew McCutchen had scored from third for the go-ahead run.
First-base coach Rick Sofield called the play, taking advantage of the shift against Pedro Alvarez that had New York third baseman David Wright playing in the shortstop hole.
"So Andrew had freedom over there. We saw an opportunity to steal a run," Sofield said. "It's that first-and-third offense. We're searching for ways to score runs, and these new defensive rotations open up a new arena of possibilities."
• Another day, another new Josh Harrison highlight.
Making only his third start of the season in left field -- Starling Marte was out nursing a sore right middle finger and Jose Tabata, the usual left-field alternate, was outrighted earlier in the week -- Harrison threw out Bobby Abreu attempting to score on Ruben Tejada's second inning single.
It was Harrison's first career assist as a left fielder.
"An excellent throw," manager Clint Hurdle said. "He's already made a throw from right field to nail a runner at home. He has worked hard at all aspects of his defensive play -- infield and outfield."
• The Pirates are in the midst of starting right-handers in five consecutive games for the first time since July 7-16, 2012.
Charlie Morton started the finale of the Rays series on Wednesday. Vance Worley opened up the four-game set against the Mets on Thursday, and he will be followed by Brandon Cumpton, returning Gerrit Cole and Edinson Volquez.
Two years ago, the Bucs actually started six consecutive righties, wrapped around the All-Star break: James McDonald, A.J. Burnett, McDonald again, Kevin Correia, Burnett and Jeff Karstens.
• The Pittsburgh infield has not been overactive most of the season -- the club still ranked only 11th in double plays in the National League entering Thursday night's game -- but it has certainly come to pitchers' aids recently.
The Bucs turned their sixth and seventh DPs in the last four games behind Worley.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.