MINNEAPOLIS Left-handed reliever John Grabow’s heroic effort last night got lost amid all the hoopla of the LaRoche brothers both going deep and Andrew McCutchen smacking his first career homer.
So, here’s some props, Grabes:
Seventh inning, Pirates up 4-2. Grabow relieves Ian Snell and gets an easy grounder to start the frame. Brendan Harris rips a ball into the left field corner. Harris stops rounding first base, then is able to jog into second when left fielder Nyjer Morgan throws the ball to third base. Second baseman Freddy Sanchez is visibly agitated, because the Pirates had a chance to nail Harris at second.
Joe Mauer walks. Justin Morneau walks. Sensing a turning point, the crowd of 30,057 rises to its feet and takes advantage of the Metrodome’s acoustics.
One, two, three pitches and Jason Kubel is a strikeout victim.
Up came Joe Crede, who blasted a two-run double in the third. Crede is a .268 hitter against lefties, about 60 points better than he is against right-handers. Tapper toward the mound. Grabow scoops the ball on the run and flips to first baseman Adam LaRoche. As the ball nestled into LaRoche’s mitt, about 5,000 fans turned and headed for the parking lots.
Inning over. Lead preserved. Game effectively won.
“It was huge,” manager John Russell said. “That’s kind of John. He does that sometimes. He gets into a jam and finds a way out of it. I thought he showed a lot of guts to get through that inning. It could have been a totally different game.”
After the final out, Grabow stood beside the clubhouse door and fist-bumped every player and coach. Only then did he go inside and have ice packs strapped on his left shoulder, elbow and hip.
• Lineups for this afternoon’s game:
PIRATES 1.Andrew McCutchen cf, 2. Nyjer Morgan lf, 3. Eric Hinske dh, 4. Adam LaRoche 1b, 5. Andy LaRoche 3b, 6. Brandon Moss rf, 7. Jason Jaramillo c, 8. Ramon Vazquez 2b, 9. Jack Wilson ss. Zach Duke (7-4, 3.10) lhp
TWINS TBA. Nick Blackburn (5-2, 3.31) rhp