Kevin Gorman: Cole Tucker captures the heart of the city just as the Pirates needed it


The hearts collapsed when Starling Marte and Erik Gonzalez competed at full speed on Friday night at PNC Park, a game that injured both players and caused a serious shortage of Pittsburgh Pirates players.

Cole Tucker was beaten Saturday in the wake, which had the effect of delighting the arrival of his compatriot Bryan Reynolds during his debut in the major leagues.

This is the problem of trying to pinpoint the pulse of these pirates: every time they feel like being left for dead, they give us palpitations. Conversely, it seems that every time they capture the heart of this city, it is only until their next disaster.

Instead of curtains, we had a curtain call.

Tucker did not have that first blow in the big leagues against Derek Holland and the Giants of San Francisco. With two outs in the fifth inning, Tucker crushed the field 2-2 for a two-point homerun center that proved the winner of the match in a 3-1 win shortened by the rain. The shot sailed on Kevin Pillar and in the shrubs that spell PIRATES. Tucker screamed screaming after finishing third and headed for the house with his right arm extended.

Tucker did not just get out of the dugout canoe to tip his batting helmet. He reveled in the celebration in front of a crowd of 17,663 people, raising his arms and pumping them before pounding his left hand on his chest. Tucker did not just give fans of PNC Park Pirates something to applaud, but most of all to someone.

"I was so excited to do it that I went out and that I was moved, dude," Tucker said. "It was noisy. People were shouting. It was really, really, really cool. "

It was a perfect timing, and not just because his homer was the thunder that followed a flash to beat a three hour rain delay. It also brought a perfect symmetry to the scenario, because the last Pirate to have played in his major league debut was none other than Marte.

It was exactly what this city and this team needed, at the right time. The Pirates had returned home with the best percentage of wins in the National League, just days after the Penguins were swept the playoffs of the Stanley Cup.

Thus, it only made sense that the same night the Pirates took first place in NL Central, they lost both the starting short-stop and the central defensive player. While Marte was on the 10-day list with abdominal wall and quadriceps contusions, Gonzalez was placed on the 60-day injured list with a fractured left clavicle.

"It was cool, I had not come to think, 'Oh, I'm stressed because Marte was injured or Erik was injured, etc.', but we really needed a raise," he said. said Tucker. "It was nice to go out and do that."

Director Clint Hurdle did not mince words when asked what motivated Tucker and Reynolds' orders. This was not the time to be subtle, and he said it was not because of their impressive oblique lines in two weeks at Triple-A Indianapolis.

"The need for central ground and stopping runs, quite frankly," said Hurdle. "The next man, absolutely."

This goes against the plans of the Pirates to methodically bring both players. The occasion hit the door, leaving them no choice but to answer. It was not a matter of service time or control year. The pirates were in survival mode.

The outer field was decimated by injury. Straight-field player Gregory Polanco had a shoulder surgery in the off-season. His replacement, Lonnie Chisenhall, was shot in the hand. Corey Dickerson, the left-field player who won the Gold Glove, then passed the ball into the IL.

This allowed Reynolds to close the loop, as he was part of the package that the Pirates had received from the Giants in exchange for Andrew McCutchen's exchange in January 2018. The fact that his first major league match was played against San Francisco was a delightful irony for Reynolds, who made it his first shot on a single with two short stops in the fourth inning and managed a nice catch over the shoulder in the deep center to end the sleeve.

Tucker, on the other hand, was the first round choice of the 2014 Pirates. They hoped his future would remain unchanged, despite the presence of Kevin Newman, another former first player, and the offseason contract with the Cleveland Indians for Gonzalez.

Tucker had spent the last two spring formations with the Pirates. Hurdle therefore had an idea of ​​what to expect from a set of skills including defensive reliability and club charisma. That's what Hurdle was looking for among the remaining Pirates veterans.

"I've always been convinced, whether you're a coach or a coach or an older player, that moments like these show up when you show up," Hurdle said before the game. "When the game is played by these players, it makes it so easy, it is when you have to stay away and let them play.

"There are times like this, however, where there might be some anxiety, there might be a discomfort that a voice of reason or an experienced person can, hopefully, help or be beneficial. "

The Pirates did not know that it was the voice of reason telling them to let the children play or that Tucker would be the one to get around the disaster and captivate the heart of the city.

If it's not making them jump a beat again.

Kevin Gorman is a writer for Tribune-Review. You can contact Kevin by email at [email protected] or via Twitter. .

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