Jason Grilli took pains to emphasize — twice — that this is NOT intended as a criticism of Pirates fans. He means it as a complement. “They’re doing great,” Grilli told me last night after the 5-4 loss against the Dodgers. “But I know they can do even better. This is the time to do it.”
Grilli entered the game in the ninth inning, when the Dodgers had a runner at third base and one out. He struck out Mark Ellis, then got Matt Kemp to whiff on a wicked, 83 mph slider on the inside part of the zone. “I saw Kemp was crowding the plate and I figured he’d be sitting on the fastball,” Grilli said. As Grilli readied to throw his final pitch to Kemp, the volume from the 24,670 fans inside PNC Park reached a crescendo. Grilli soaked it up. “We definitely feed off the fans,” Grilli said. “We need that. And now, every game is so important — every pitch can be so important — so we need more from them.”
»»» I’ve heard whispers that the grounds crew at PNC Park hopes to mow a “Zoltan Z” into the centerfield grass to welcome the team home from its upcoming road trip to St. Louis and San Diego. Also, as we move to within 1 1/2 months left in the season, look for the Pirates to announce (probably next week) information about ordering playoff tickets.
Game 116: Dodgers @ Pirates, 7:05 p.m. ET
Dodgers (63-53): 1. Shane Victorino lf, 2. Juan Uribe, 3b. Matt Kemp cf, 4. Andre Ethier rf, 5. Hanley Ramirez ss, 6. James Loney 1b, 7. Luis Cruz 2b, 8. A.J. Ellis c, 9. Chad Billingsley rhp (8-9, 3.84)
Pirates (64-51): 1. Starling Marte lf, 2. Travis Snider rf, 3. Andrew McCutchen cf, 4. Garrett Jones 1b, 5. Neil Walker 2b, 6. Pedro Alvarez 3b, 7. Rod Barajas c, 8. Clint Barmes ss, 9. Kevin Correia rhp (9-6, 4.49)