Gamescape: Frieri impressed with defense
Right-hander benefits from two strong plays during his debut with Bucs
A survey of the Pirates' game, with a closer look at the insets to the big picture -- streaks, trends and subplots below the surface.
• Frieri makes fast friends
Ernesto Frieri made his Pirates debut in the ninth inning of Saturday's 5-3 loss, and immediately came to appreciate his new team's defense. Frieri went 1-2-3, but "1" was a fabulous play in the hole by shortstop Jordy Mercer, and "3" was a lunging catch at the base of The Clemente Wall by Gregory Polanco.
"I was watching the first eight innings and I was thinking, 'These guys can play defense.' Then I got out there and the shortstop makes that first play," Frieri said. "I feel amazing. When you see the entire team play such defense, it gives you confidence. You're not afraid to attack the strike zone."
Manager Clint Hurdle thought Frieri's debut was amazing enough.
"I liked the zero," Hurdle said.
The Pirates acquired Frieri from the Angels on Friday for Jason Grilli.
• That was a close one … again
Of the Pirates' first 81 games of the season, 61.7% have been decided by one or two runs. They are 19-15 in one-run games and 10-6 in two-run decision after Saturday's 5-3 loss.
The Bucs are also 4-2 in games with that precise 5-3 final, by the way -- but 3-0 in 8-6 games.
The Bucs' record in day games dropped to 10-20, the Major League's worst, with Saturday's defeat.
As Annie says, "The sun'll come up, tomorrow," as the Pirates will wrap up their four-game series with the Mets with Sunday afternoon's match.
• Polanco's first mini slump
Every day seems to bring a new "first" for Gregory Polanco, and Saturday was no exception.
An 0-for-5 gave him his first instance of two straight hitless games. The big collar also dropped his average (.299) below .300.
Polanco is expected to get a day off, either Sunday or Tuesday, but it will have nothing to do with this little lull. Hurdle intends to rest both him and Andrew McCutchen before the Bucs hit the stretch of 13 consecutive game days leading to the All-Star break.
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.