The Pittsburgh Pirates pulled off an exhilarating win Sunday afternoon to beat the Philadelphia Phillies 6-4 thanks to a Josh Palacios walk-off homer.
The home run marked the first-ever walk-off hit for Palacios at the major league level. To make matters even better, Palacios celebrated the walk-off homer on his birthday of all days. You really can’t make this stuff up.
The birthday boy also became the first Pirates player since 1979 to hit a walk-off homer on his birthday while becoming the sixth player in major league history.
Former Pirate Barry Bonds also accomplished this feat on July 24, 2003, while with San Francisco.
Before Palacios belted a 367-foot homer, the now 28-year-old almost got hit in the face by a slider up and in during a bunt attempt to begin the at-bat.
“I’m happy I laid off of those two pitches,” said Palacios on the at-bat. “I had one almost drill me. I had to recompose myself, and once the bunt sign came off, I thought it would be cool to take a shot here. After I took a shot and hit that ball, I think I blacked out. I still might be blacked out right now.”
Palacios said smilingly that this was the best birthday present other than his first one.
It takes a particular person to recompose after close encounter by a pitch. The amount of self-discipline it takes after getting buzzed by the face is a whole other matter.
“It’s a little difficult, and I try to practice that, and I try to take one rep at a time,” said Palacios. “It low-key excites me a little bit, and it kind of gets the juices flowing. I took a breath, locked back in, and did what I had to do. I treat it with one rep at a time.”
Pirates manager Derek Shelton is also celebrating a birthday on Sunday, and he gave his thoughts on the Palacios walk-off homer.
“He had good at-bats the whole day. If you’re going to bunt, especially left on left, you have to stick your nose in there. T-Brock’s been working with him on getting there. He got a slider that almost got him in the face. And he stayed there and came back and took a good swing, obviously, to win it.”
To put a nice bow on the Phillies series, the Pirates were able to pull off their second-straight series win. It seems the youth injection has been a massive part of it.
“The boys are resilient,” said Palacios. “They lock into the process, and we’re going to battle, and I think today was a representation of that. Nobody really cares what the score is or where we are in the standings. Just go out there and battle, be free, and good things happen.”