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Ten Positives for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2021 – No. 7: A Flair For the Dramatic

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It was a long and for the most part grueling season for the 61-101 Pittsburgh Pirates in 2021. With that being said, the team still had its fair share of exciting games as the Bucs set of the fireworks by collecting nine walk-off wins at PNC Park on the season.

The Pirates’ first walk-off of the year didn’t come until May 14 against the Giants when after an Adam Frazier game-tying triple, Gregory Polanco hit a sacrifice fly that allowed Frazier to score in the 11th. It didn’t take long for the Pirates to get their second walk-off the season as Jacob Stallings hit a walk-off two-run homer the very next day.

Stallings came up big in clutch spots for the Bucs all season as the backstop recorded four walk-offs on the season. Less than a month after his first, Stallings delivered an RBI single in the 12th against the Marlins giving Pittsburgh a come-from-behind victory. On the last day of July, he grounded one to third and Bryan Reynolds raced home to give the Pirates a 3-2 victory over the Phillies.

For Stallings, none of his walk-offs were bigger than the one on July 17 against the New York Mets. In that game the Pirates faced a 6-0 deficit in the eighth inning, and rallied for five runs in the home half of the inning. After a Brandon Nimmo home run in the ninth extended the Mets lead to 7-5, things were looking bleak at PNC Park – that is until Stallings stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded and two down in the inning. Stallings swung at the first pitch, a fastball well off the plate inside, off of Mets’ closer Edwin Diaz and hit it over the left field wall, giving the Pirates a 9-7 victory on Stallings’ first career grand slam.

 

The Bucs’ next walk-off win didn’t come until the end of August when the Pirates faced a 3-1 deficit in the ninth vs. the Cardinals. Yoshi Tsutsugo stepped to the plate and crushed a game-ending three-run homer over the Clemente Wall giving the Pirates a 4-3 win and adding to the legend of Yoshi.

Ke’Bryan Hayes recorded his first ever walk-off on Sept. 10 with an opposite-field single against the Washington Nationals. Five days later on Roberto Clemente Day, the Pirates walked-off the Reds in one of the most unique fashions, well, maybe ever. Colin Moran grounded a ball to first baseman Joey Votto, who bobbled the ball briefly, but flipped to pitcher Mychal Givens to record the out. Wilmer Difo, who was on second base, was racing to third and didn’t stop there. He beat the throw home and scored the game-wining run from second on a ball that never left the infield.

No matter what the final record showed and regardless of the fact that more than a few Pirates had disappointing seasons, one thing is for sure. The 26 guys in the Pirates clubhouse played hard, and never counted themselves out of any game this season. Even in a year where so much went wrong for the Pirates, they provided a slew of epic wins worth of the post-victory firework display over the batter’s eye in center field.

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