By Jason Shetler
On Wednesday, I ranked the Top 10 Pirates players of 2017. Now it’s time to rank the ten best Pirates games from this season.
10. June 12th: Jameson Taillon entered 2017 looking to build off his impressive rookie season. In early May, he was placed on the disabled list. The original diagnosis was a groin injury, but it was later revealed that testicular cancer had formed. Not only did Taillon recover, but he made his return with the Pirates on June 12th, pitching five scoreless innings against the Colorado Rockies. It certainly made for a terrific feel good story.
9. April 29th: The Pirates took on the Miami Marlins in South Beach on April 29th. Ivan Nova got the start and turned in the best outing by a Pirates starter this year. Nova tossed a complete game shutout, limiting the Fish to just three hits. He threw only 95 pitches and did not allow a walk. The Pirates were victorious 4-0.
8. July 14th: In the first game coming out of the All-Star break, the Pirates hosted the St. Louis Cardinals. With the gamed tied 2-2 in the ninth, Josh Bell delivered an opposite field, three-run homer off Seung-hwan Oh to give the Bucs a 5-2 win. It was Bell’s first career walkoff home run.
7. May 24th: On May 24th, the Pirates visited the Atlanta Braves at brand new SunTrust Park. In the tenth inning of a 5-5 game, the Pirates put up seven runs. These runs were highlighted by homers from David Freese, Jose Osuna and Jordy Mercer, all of which were allowed by Josh Collmenter. It marked just the third time in Major League history that a team hit back-to-back-to-back homers in extra innings.
6. September 4th: While September 4th may have been Labor Day, the Pirates offense did not labor that day. They defeated the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park by a final of 12-0. Seven of those runs came in the eighth inning. Josh Bell and Max Moroff each drove in four runs.
5. July 30th: In 2009 and 2016, Andrew McCutchen had games in which homered three times. He would accomplish that feat for the third time in his career on July 30th versus the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. McCutchen’s first home run was against Clayton Richard. He then homered off Jose Torres in the eighth, before hitting another off Torres in the ninth. The Pirates were 7-1 winners.
4. September 26th: Just when you think Andrew McCutchen has done something amazing, he just pulls another rabbit out of the hat. On September 26th against the Baltimore Orioles in Pittsburgh, McCutchen hit his first career grand slam. In addition, he had eight RBI, becoming the first Pirate to drive in eight runs in a game since Jason Bay in 2004.
3. July 9th: On the last game before the All-Star break, the Pirates faced the Cubs at Wrigley Field. The Bucs exploded for ten runs in the first, with the biggest blow coming on a Francisco Cervelli grandslam. It was the first time in Jon Lester’s career that he failed to get out of the first inning. The game ended up being a 14-3 final.
2. August 6th: After two seasons with the Pirates in 2015 and 2016, Sean Rodriguez became a free agent and signed on with the Braves last offseason. Following a terrifying car accident in January, there was doubt if Rodriguez would play at all in 2017. Amazingly, he made his season debut with the Braves in July. Just a few days after the trade deadline, the Pirates acquired Rodriguez. On August 6th against the Padres, he made his return to Pittsburgh. With the game tied 4-4 in the 12th, Rodriguez unloaded on a Buddy Baumann pitch for a walkoff home run to give the Bucs a 5-4 victory.
1. August 23rd: The best Pirates game of 2017 was against the Los Angeles Dodgers at PNC Park on August 23rd. It featured the most exciting pitching duel of the entire season. Trevor Williams had gone eight scoreless, while Rich Hill was aiming for perfection. Hill lost the perfect game in the eighth on an error, but still had the no-hitter intact. With no score in the tenth, and Hill still working on a no-no, Josh Harrison stepped to the plate and delivered a game-winning homer just over the left field wall. For the first time in MLB history, a walkoff home run broke up a no-hitter.