All good things must come to an end. Jason Grilli has been a good thing for the Pirates so far this year, but he was pretty unlikely to be perfect in save situations all year. And last night he blew his first save of the year.
Granted, it wasn’t an easy save. The Pirates led 1-0 entering the ninth inning thanks to seven shutout innings from Jeff Locke and one from Mark Melancon. Grilli was called in to lock it down against the Reds’ 4-5-6 hitters. He retired Brandon Phillips on a liner but then Jay Bruce swung at the first pitch he saw from Grilli and deposited it over the right field fence. Way over, actually, as it went out on a line and got out in a hurry. It was measured as a 425-foot blast.
Bruce, by the way, had taken a homer away from Andrew McCutchen in the seventh, making a leaping grab at the wall, so he had himself a day.
The Reds went on to win in 13. And, as all closers do, Grilli will have to shake it off and be ready again this afternoon. It’ll be a new thing for him, but I figure he’s up to it.
I just saw Jay Jaffe of FanGraphs refer to this as “BryceGhazi” and we’re not gonna top that, so we shouldn’t even try.
The controversy: Bryce Harper, in defeating Kyle Schwarber in the Home Run Derby last night, didn’t follow the rules. Or else his dad, who was pitching to him didn’t. The rule in question is that the pitcher has to wait for the last hit ball to land before delivering the next one. Given that the Derby is a timed event, such a thing matters, of course, because the faster you get pitches the faster you can hit them out of the park. At least if you don’t get too tired first.
Harper’s dad was a bit quick with the final three pitches in the final round, allowing Harper to get to 18, tying Kyle Schwarber before winning it outright with his 30 seconds bonus time. Watch as Harper waves for his dad to deliver the pitch while the last ball is still flying:
I’m not gonna argue that he didn’t do it. I will say, however, that no one should really care. Mostly because it’s the Home Run Derby and it doesn’t matter a bit. Getting mad about this is a half-step removed from getting mad that Blackjack Mulligan used a foreign object to gouge Pedro Morales’ eyes during a house show in 1976. Yes, it’s true, but c’mon, we’re entertaining people here.
I have not seen any suggestion that Kyle Schwarber is upset, but if he later says he is I’ll simultaneously understand yet still roll my eyes. I doubt MLB will do anything here or issue a statement of any kind. If it does, I’ll roll my eyes harder. Because, I repeat: It’s the Home Run Derby.