The Pittsburgh Pirates finally made the call to promote top prospect Gregory Polanco on Tuesday. A mere 72 hours later, they probably joined the rest of the world in wondering what took them so long. In only his fourth big league game, the 22-year-old from the Dominican Republic made history by recording his first career five-hit game, and to cap the whole night off he also connected for his first career home run.
Former Montreal Expos second baseman Mike Lansing pulled it off in his fifth career game back in 1993.
A memorable night and historic performance even if the rest of the details were ignored. However, those other details simply can't be ignored, because Polanco's home run was more than just a career milestone, it was a go-ahead two-run shot in the 13th inning that proved to be the difference in Pittsburgh's 8-6 victory over the Miami Marlins.
Needless to say, rituals were ignored and there was no silent treatment in the dugout for this rookie's first career home run. He was greeted with the exuberant 'Yes' chants, which have become Pittsburgh's rally call this season.
Polanco's homer didn't fall under the walkoff category since Pittsburgh was on the road, but a game-winner of any type is significant. That was especially true under the circumstances Pittsburgh faced on Friday night. It appeared as though they had the game well in hand entering the ninth inning, thanks in part to Polanco's breakout night. However, the resilient Marlins rallied to score four runs off Justin Wilson and closer Jason Grilli to send the game to extra innings.
Had Pittsburgh lost, manager Clint Hurdle probably would have faced tougher questions, particularly about his decision to intentionally walk Giancarlo Stanton to load the bases in the ninth inning. That strange call eventually led to the tying run scoring on another walk to Casey McGehee. And had Pittsburgh lost, Polanco's game still would have been special, but probably just a footnote in the bigger game story.
The rookie changed all of that with one swing. He wrote a happy ending for himself, his teammates and for his manager. And the best part is he was able to share the entire experience with his mother, who traveled to Miami on Friday to watch him play in the big leagues for the first time.
''For sure this is my best game ever - the first time she's here watching me play,'' Polanco said. ''I was excited and a little emotional. She's so proud of me, and I know she's feeling excited right now.''
That's pretty awesome.
About the only thing that could cap his fairy tale night would be getting the baseball back from the fan who caught his home run.
The fan didn't even have any demands. Just a kind gesture.
Indeed, everything is coming up Gregory Polanco, and the exciting part for Pirates fans is that this is only the beginning. Friday was the first of what should be several career-defining games for their new right fielder. But if for some reason the right one doesn't come through, the center fielder (Andrew McCutchen) or left fielder (Starling Marte) probably will.
All three are keepers.
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