Game number 158 in an otherwise forgettable season was a reminder of how much fun a baseball game can be.
Suddenly, the Pirates hitters own Arrieta. Jaso’s big night was just going started in the fourth inning when he broke a 1-1 tie with a three-run blast off Arrieta to give the Pirates a 4-1 advantage. One inning later, Jaso ripped an RBI double off the Clemente Wall off Arrieta to make it 5-1 Bucs. David Freese matched Jaso’s RBI double with his own off Arrieta for a 6-1 score. And then Eric Fryer hit an RBI single for the SEVENTH run off Arrieta on the night. When it was all said and done, Arrieta surrendered 10 hits, seven runs, two walks and one home run in 5.0 innings to raise his season ERA to 3.10, his highest mark in three years. Not exactly the last tune-up he was looking before heading into the postseason.
His five games against the Pirates before tonight looked like this:
Three gems against the Pirates and then bam, suddenly on July 8th everything changed and the Pirates hit him around the park like he’s some Double-A arm. In his last 17.1 innings versus the Bucs, Arrieta gave up 19 earned runs (9.87 ERA).
But enough about Arrieta. This was Jaso’s night as he became the first Pirates player to hit for the cycle since Daryle Ward in 2004. Ward did it in St. Louis. The last Pirates player to accomplish the feat while at home in Pittsburgh was Jason Kendall on May 19, 2000 in the final season at Three Rivers Stadium. Jaso’s cycle was the 24th in the history of the Pittsburgh Baseball Club. His 4th inning home run and 5th inning double were the middle hits and with his single from the 2nd inning, it set up his momentous at-bat in the 7th inning. Needing a triple for the cycle, Jaso belted a Pedro Strop offering to dead center over Albert Almora‘s head and died at the bottom of the wall. By the time Almora got to the ball and threw it in, Jaso was on his way to third for the triple and the cycle.
As for Jameson Taillon, who started his last game of the season for the Pirates, he gave up a solo home to Anthony Rizzo (who else?) in the 1st inning and after a shaky 2nd inning where he walked two, Taillon escaped unscathed and then settled down to limit the Cubs to just three walks and the one hit, Rizzo’s homer, in 6.0 innings of work and four strikeouts. Taillon’s season ERA in his rookie year finishes at 3.38 in 18 starts and 104 innings. I’m looking forward to seeing what Taillon can do with a full season in the rotation.
In a season void of exciting finishes and moments, this game and Jaso’s feat hitting for the cycle (with most of it off of Arrieta) is right up there at the top of the list for 2016.