Tike Redman couldn’t have scripted a better outcome to his first game back with the Pirates. And the Pirates couldn’t have scripted a better outcome to their fantastic comeback against the Colorado Rockies.
Playing in his first major-league game in two years, Redman was down to his final strike when he slashed a two-out, two-run triple in the ninth inning that completed a comeback from a five-run deficit. Jason Kendall, returning from a three-game suspension, singled Redman home to give the Pirates a wild 12-11 victory at PNC Park.
It was the Pirates’ biggest comeback since July 28, 2001 when they scored seven runs with two out in the ninth to beat the Houston Astros.
“It was a good win, a very satisfying win,” Kendall said. “You have to tip your cap to Tike. He had a hell of an at-bat.”
The triple was Redman’s second of the game. He also walked twice and scored two runs in six plate appearances.
Even Redman admitted that he couldn’t have written a better ending to his first game with the Pirates since the 2001 season.
“I just let it all happen,” he said. “I had a good night, and I want to keep it up.”
The Pirates were trailing 11-9 and had runners on second and third when Redman fouled off three two-strike pitches against Rockies reliever Adam Bernero (0-1). Redman then lined a 2-2 pitch into the right-center gap. Moments later he was sprinting home with the winning run, courtesy of Kendall’s single over shortstop Tony Womack’s head.
Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon had his tongue planted in his cheek when he expressed his displeasure with Redman’s final swing.
“Hell, I told him to go up and hit a home run,” McClendon said, laughing. “I was disappointed with the triple. But I’m very happy and pleased. He’s shown a lot of character getting back to the big leagues. I hope he continues his good play.”
Duaner Sanchez (1-0) earned his first major-league win despite giving up a run in the ninth. Sanchez’s outing was characteristic of both team’s pitching performances. Neither starter worked past the fifth inning while the bullpens combined to give up 10 runs.
After allowing three runs in two-thirds of an inning, Pirates reliever Jim Mann was designated for assignment. He will be replaced on the roster by Mark Corey, whose contract was purchased from Class AAA Nashville.
The Pirates also might need to make a roster move today involving outfielder Matt Stairs, who strained his right hamstring running the bases in the fifth inning and did not return. He will be re-evaluated today.
Salomon Torres allowed seven runs in five innings and departed with the Pirates trailing, 7-2. Rockies starter Denny Stark was chased with two out in the fifth after the Pirates pulled within 7-6.
“I don’t think either starter gave you a warm, cozy feeling,” McClendon said.
Nor did the Pirates relievers.
The Rockies scored three runs off Mann and one off Sanchez to set the stage for the ninth. All of the damage came after Justin Speier, the fourth Rockies pitcher, struck out Brian Giles for the first out.
Craig Wilson singled, Reggie Sanders doubled for his third hit and Jose Hernandez drew a walk to load the bases.
Jack Wilson’s single to center brought in one run. Abraham Nunez beat out a double-play grounder to short to keep the rally alive, with Sanders scoring to trim the deficit to 11-8.
“Going down the line as hard as he did set up the inning,” McClendon said. “If he doesn’t bust his tail down the line, we don’t win the game.”
Hernandez scored on a passed ball to pull the Pirates within two runs. After pinch-hitter Jeff Reboulet drew a walk, Bernero was brought in to face the left-handed hitting Redman.
“I was trying to battle until he threw me something I could hit,” said Redman, whose hit scored Nunez and Reboulet. “I got a fastball and was able to put some good wood on it.”
Once considered a promising prospect, Redman was removed from the 40-man roster last winter, but he regained his status within the organization this season. In 100 games at Nashville, he batted .294 with four homers, 29 RBI and 42 stolen bases.
“He’s one of the guys we need to evaluate as far as whether he’s going to be part of what we’re trying to do here,” McClendon said. “This is a great opportunity for him. The only way to do that is to play him on a consistent basis. It won’t be every day, but he’ll be out there on a consistent basis so we can see what he can do. You can’t do that by playing him once or twice a week.”
Redman made brief appearances with the Pirates in the 2000-01 season, batting .238 with two homers, five RBI and four steals in 46 games and 143 at-bats. He missed more than two months in the first half of last season when he fractured a bone in his right hand.
While the Pirates tried everyone from Chad Hermansen to Rob Mackowiak to Adam Hyzdu to Adrian Brown in center field, Redman remained in Nashville the entire year and wasn’t called up in September.
“When you get taken off the roster, the perception is that guys have moved ahead of you,” McClendon said. “He certainly didn’t let it get him down. He did the things he needed to get back on track. He’s the type of guy we’re looking for in the leadoff spot. Hopefully, he’ll spark us and play the type of game he did down there.”
Redman realizes this might be his last chance with the Pirates.
“I’ve got a lot of confidence in myself,” he said. “I’m ready to show them that I can play here.”
So far, so good.
Redman helped the Pirates come back from a 2-0 deficit in the first, opening with a triple to right-center. It was a preview of things to come.
“It feels good, but it’s only one game,” Redman said. “I’ve got plenty of others to go. I want to put more and more games like this together and put this team in a position to win.”