In just his seventh home game, Pittsburgh Pirates right fielder Gregory Polanco hit his first home run into the right field seats at PNC Park as the Pirates beat the New York Mets 5-2 to start off a crucial 10-game homestand. That's a sight the crowd of 36,647 will be hoping to see for a long time.
The win marks the first time the Pirates have been above .500 since April 14 when the team was 7-6.
Vance Worley (2-0, 1.74) went seven innings, allowing one run, two walks and seven hits. Worley has been dominant in his three starts since being called up from Triple-A Indianapolis, with his outing of 6.2 innings in his debut the shortest of the trio. The Pirates acquired the 26-year-old right-hander during the offseason after he was outrighted off the Minnesota Twins roster.
A quality outing from the starting pitcher—something that has been all too elusive for the Pirates this season—was integral in setting the table for the win. Coming into Thursday's game, the Pirates staff ranked 23rd in the majors in quality starts with 37, which is even more alarming after you consider the rotation's recent upswing in form. Getting solid outings from the upcoming starters going forward will be especially key during the homestand, as the three forthcoming opponents (New York, Philadelphia and Arizona) have combined for a .440 winning percentage this year.
The story of the night was Polanco, however. The 22-year-old drove in four runs and reached base in all three plate appearances. The Pirates' top prospect raised his average to .338 in 68 at-bats with the Bucs.
Tony Watson yielded his first earned run since April 22, but it wasn't a factor, as Mark Melancon came on in the ninth to shut the door for his 14th save.
The Pirates will need performances like this during the remainder of this homestand in order to regain ground lost on the rest of the National League. The team stands 7.5 games out of first place, with the Brewers in action as well Thursday night.
The homestand resumes Friday with the second game of the series against the Mets as Brandon Cumpton (3-2, 4.93) takes the mound against Jacob deGrom (1-4, 3.75) at 7:05 p.m. ET.