Why do they keep passing on such a useful hitter?
Pittsburgh Pirates’ Ji-Man Choi exploded.
Starting in the No. 4 spot in the lineup against the Cleveland Cavaliers at PNC Park on Tuesday, Choi went 1-for-3 with a home run, two RBIs, and a run scored in the Pirates’ 7-5 comeback win.
It was the first time in four days that Choi was in the starting lineup since April 16 against the San Francisco Giants. He was a late-game substitute against San Francisco on the 17th and Cleveland on the 18th, and sat out the 19th. It was a strictly platoon approach, as he didn’t start on the 18th even though the opposing starter was a right-hander.
On that day, Cleveland started right-hander Aaron Cibale. Choi led off the second inning with an 0-0 count before fouling out to the second baseman. On a 3B1S count, Cibale’s five-seam 86-mph cutter was well-struck, but it sailed high to right and was caught by the second baseman.
Trailing 0-1 in the fourth, he hit a 73-mph curveball two batters later that sailed into the left field seats.
Trailing 2-4 in the sixth, Choi drew a walk in his third at-bat. On a full count, he saw a six-pitch, 86-mph cutter from Cibale. The pitch sent Cibale down the mound. Choi, however, was unable to advance as he was unable to follow through.
It was in the bottom of the seventh inning that Choi came through with the game-winning hit. Trailing 2-4, Pittsburgh sent 10 batters to the plate in the seventh inning, combining four hits and three walks to score five runs and take a 7-4 lead.
Nick Gonzalez walked, Endy Rodriguez singled up the middle, and Conor Jo singled to shortstop to load the bases. A Brian Reynolds grounder to shortstop allowed Gonzalez to score and Carlos Santana singled to load the bases again.
Choi then stepped up to bat in the fourth. On a 1B1S pitch count against left-hander Sam Hentges, Choi saw a three-pitch 88.1-mph slider with a slight curve on the outside of the plate and pulled it straight down the middle and into the right-field seats. Two runners crossed the plate, and Santana, who was on first, advanced to third, setting up another scoring opportunity. A thrilling 5-4 comeback. The pitch was 103.9 mph. It was hit right to the center of the bat.
Choi jumped up and down with his right fist pumping, and then he did the fist gesture again at first base to set the mood for the Dougie Neighborhood, especially since he came through with the game-winning hit against a lefty.
Hentges was eventually removed. Pittsburgh loaded the bases with two outs when Jarrett Triolo singled through the left side to make it 7-4.
Cleveland got a run back in the top of the eighth on a Josh Bell solo home run, but the Pittsburgh bullpen held the rest of the way. 안전놀이터
Choi is now batting .182 (10-for-55) with four home runs, eight RBIs and six runs scored. Since returning from an Achilles’ tendon injury on Aug. 8 against the Arizona Diamondbacks, he’s batting .261 (6-for-23) with two homers and six RBIs in eight games. It’s safe to say his bat is back on track.
With Choi snapping a five-game losing streak and earning his first win of the second half, Pittsburgh remained in fifth place in the NL Central with a 42-54 record.