After being criticized for his reckless stealing and frequent strikeouts in the middle of last month, Pittsburgh Pirates’ Bae Ji-hwan is rebuilding his credibility.
The outfielder had a multi-hit game, including a grand slam, to lead the Pirates to their fifth straight win.
Bae started in the No. 6 spot in the lineup against the St. Louis Cardinals at PNC Park on Friday, going 2-for-4 with a home run, two RBIs and two stolen bases in a 2-1 victory.
Riding a five-game winning streak dating back to May 31 against the San Francisco Giants, Pittsburgh improved to 31-27 and maintained a half-game lead over the first-place Milwaukee Brewers (32-27) in the NL Central. Milwaukee beat the Cincinnati Reds 5-1 earlier in the day.
Bae scored the game-winning run in the bottom of the first inning. Pittsburgh had runners on first and second after back-to-back singles by Brian Reynolds and Zack Swinski. After Carlos Santana grounded into a double play, Keebrian Hayes hit an infield single to center field to load the bases.
Bae Ji-hwan, who stepped to the plate for the first time in the at-bat, lined a clean single up the middle to put two runners on base. On a 2B1S pitch, he took a 92.5-mph fastball on the body from starter Miles Myolas.
Bae then stole second off Rodolfo Castro to advance to scoring position. On a 1B1S pitch count, he jumped on the third pitch, but the catcher didn’t throw to second base at all. There was no point in throwing to second on a fastball.
However, Castro grounded out and Bae didn’t advance any further.
After hitting a grounder to the second baseman in the third inning, Bae put runners on first and third with two outs in the fifth inning. This time, on a full count, he took a 91.6-mph four-seam sinker from Nicholas for a clothesline double to center field. Bae stole second again, but was unable to reach home as Castro hit an infield grounder.
In his final at-bat in the eighth inning with a 2-1 lead, Bae grounded out to shortstop.
With the win, Bae is batting .274 (43-for-157) with 14 doubles, 27 RBI, 17 runs scored, 17 stolen bases and a .689 OPS. The multi-hit game was his 12th of the season and sixth in his last 14 games. Bae, who is batting .372 (16-for-43) in that span, has raised his average from .237 to 2-for-7. The stolen bases moved him into a tie for second in the NL with the New York Mets’ Starling Marte. He is seven behind leader Ronald Acuna Jr. of the Atlanta Braves (24).
Meanwhile, Bae has yet to fill a regulation at-bat. As of today, Pittsburgh has 180 regulation at-bats. Bae has 172, eight short.안전놀이터
The distance to a regular at-bat isn’t getting any closer. After starting seven games in a row and coming within seven at-bats of reaching the plate in the last three games, Bae’s streak was cut short on Thursday when he came on as a late-game pinch-hitter for the Cardinals and got just one at-bat.
If he makes it to the plate, his current batting average is second on the team behind Reynolds.