For two teams essentially playing out the string, the Pittsburgh Pirates and visiting New York Yankees are stirring up a mountain of emotion early in their three-game weekend series, with Game 2 in the set coming Saturday evening.
On Friday, the ups and downs came in droves in New York's 7-5 win.
First, Yankees ace Gerrit Cole, a former Pirates starter who was pitching as a visitor in Pittsburgh for the first time, struggled early. He walked three in the first inning for the first time in his career, ultimately got his pitch count up to 93 and left after five innings trailing 2-1.
In the sixth, after New York had gone ahead, Pittsburgh took a 5-3 lead, but it came a cost that affected both teams. Ji Hwan Bae's game-tying, RBI single was a 100 mph liner that struck reliever Anthony Misiewicz in the head. Misiewicz had to be helped into a cart and taken off the field and transported to a hospital.
"I know he got through some scans, but we don't have any results from that," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said of Misiewicz postgame. "All I know is he left (the ballpark) in good spirits. ... Just hoping and praying for the best."
New York catcher Ben Rortvedt said of the feeling when play resumed, "That was really tough for all of us. We just had to do the best we could to put it behind us that inning and get back to work, but all of us are thinking about him."
After all that, the Yankees (75-73) scored four runs in the top of the ninth — the eighth time in their past nine wins they have come from behind — but only because what could have been a game-ending double play turned into a two-run play as second baseman Bae made a throwing error.
The Pirates (69-79) could be dealing with carry-over emotions on Saturday, starting with concerns about Misiewicz's health.
"We want to wish our best to Anthony. That's a scary sight," Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said before fielding any postgame questions. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to him first and foremost."
"It's extremely challenging," he said. "We end up taking the lead (in the inning), but in the back of your mind you're thinking about a player, a human being."
Both teams have to move forward, but Pittsburgh, with a roster dotted with young players, has to do it after losing the series opener.
"It's a tough loss," Shelton said. "It's something we have to learn (from) and continue to go. That is a tough one because we battled back and we did a lot of good things. It's just, we have to finish games like that."
After the Friday game, Pittsburgh announced that Luis L. Ortiz (4-4, 4.66 ERA) would make the Saturday start. The right-hander is 2-0 with a 2.20 ERA over his past three starts.
He has faced the Yankees once, last Sept. 20 in his second career game. He did not get a decision while allowing two runs (one earned) and three hits in five innings.
Luke Weaver (2-5, 6.77) is projected to make his Yankees debut on Saturday, appearing for his third team this season. He was released by the Cincinnati Reds in August, then spent three weeks with the Seattle Mariners before he was claimed off waivers by the Yankees on Tuesday.
Weaver most recently pitched last Saturday, when he allowed four runs on four hits in a 4 1/3-inning relief outing for the Mariners against the Tampa Bay Rays.
In 11 career games (eight starts) against the Pirates, Weaver is 2-3 with a 4.53 ERA. He has faced Pittsburgh twice this year, going 0-1 with a 7.45 ERA.
—Field Level Media