PITTSBURGH — It took Jordan Luplow 13 major-league at-bats before he recorded his first MLB hit with an infield single in the second inning against the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday.
Apparently unsatisfied with just the one milestone hit, Luplow added another with his first big-league home run in the eighth inning, a three-run homer off Reds reliever Wendy Peralta that did most of the damage in the Pirates’ 5-0 victory.
Luplow is one of the younger players that the Pirates are attempting to get more opportunities as the team plays out the string in the month of September. Luplow was making just his third major-league start since coming up from Triple-A Indianapolis for good on August 28.
While the on-field results of those young players has been mixed so far, Luplow provided an unquestioned spark in the lineup on Saturday.
Luplow’s home run went out to one of the deepest part of the ballparks in the left-center notch and traveled an estimated 393 feet. He started the season slugging with 16 home runs with Double-A Altoona and added seven more with Indy to give him a total of 24 on the season. He had only hit 28 in three pro seasons combined before this year.
“He’s hit the ball all year long, so we knew it was just a matter of time until he started hitting it here,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “The first hit obviously just helped him breathe a little bit more. It’s not a lot of at-bats, but there’s a little anxiety going on. You want to get the first one and move on. He’s got the first two out of the way.”
Luplow admitted that getting the first hit was a weight off his shoulders and said he felt that his grandfather John Luplow, who passed away while Jordan was in high school, was looking down on him.
HE SAID IT
“Oh my God. That’s crazy. That inning was crazy. I thought they were going to catch it. Everybody could tell the velocity. I just hit the ball and I saw it was a fly ball and thought there was no chance.” — Starling Marte on his bloop single in the seventh inning that scored John Jaso from first after a pair of Reds misplays.
GAME IN GRAPHS
Luplow’s power surge has taken some by surprise this season, but the power has always been there, he’s just hitting the ball out of the ballpark now instead of hitting doubles. His ISO spike in Altoona this year did coincide with his biggest home-run totals, but he’s always had about the same level of overall power.
***Starter Jameson Taillon got back on track, throwing six shutout innings while allowing just three hits. He combined with relievers A.J. Schugel, Daniel Hudson, and Felipe Rivero to shut out the Reds. Here’s more from Taillon on getting back on track for a strong September after a tough August.
***Second baseman Josh Harrison left the game after being struck by a pitch in the hand in the fifth inning. He is seeking treatment from an orthopedic doctor. The news doesn’t sound promising for Harrison, who was hit an MLB-leading 23rd time this year. He was replaced in the field by Sean Rodriguez.
***Marte finished the day 3 for 5 with another RBI in addition to his single that scored Jaso, but after the game, he was mostly smiling because of the success of Luplow. Marte got to know Luplow a bit while the two were in Indianapolis together earlier this year.
“When I saw those kids out there and they did something they think was wrong, they’d come to me and I’d say, ‘Don’t worry about it. Do what you do every day. Feel comfortable and keep fighting,'” Marte said. “Everything is different here. Everything is on computer, launches angles, all the positions they play you, but at the same time, it’s still fighting every inning you get in there.”