Gregory Polanco has already earned a long list of admirers during his short time in the majors. New York Mets manager Terry Collins is now one of them.
Collins got his first look at the Pittsburgh Pirates’ rookie right fielder Thursday night and came away impressed.
"He’s got a lot of tools, a lot of skills," Collins said. "I watched him in batting practice and you see he had big power, then he showed it in the game. He’s very impressive."
The hot-hitting Polanco homered and drove in four runs, and resurgent right-hander Vance Worley pitched seven stingy innings to lead the Pirates past the Mets 5-2 for their fifth win in six games.
Polanco drove in the game’s first run with a groundout in the first inning, then sent a three-run homer into the right-field stands off Daisuke Matsuzaka in the fifth to put the Pirates ahead 5-1. The right fielder went 2 for 3 with a walk and is hitting .338 in 16 games since being called up from Triple-A Indianapolis on June 10.
The Pirates are 10-6 since Polanco arrived, pushing them one game above .500 at 40-39.
"He’s a talented young man, so I’m humble to have him on the club and the opportunity to write his name in the lineup," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "It’s a good time for him to be included on our club and he’s obviously been making a difference since he’s been up here."
Worley (2-0) scattered seven hits, walked two and struck out three. He has given up four runs in 20 2/3 innings over three starts since coming up from Indianapolis on June 15. He was 1-5 with a 7.21 ERA in 10 starts for Minnesota last season.
Hurdle was particularly impressed that Worley pitched so effectively while struggling with his command. Worley had walked only five batters in 58 2/3 innings between Pittsburgh and Indianapolis prior to Thursday.
"It was a very solid body of work, a very professional effort," Hurdle said. "He’ll be the first one to tell you he wasn’t as sharp as he’d been previously. You saw a man go out there and have to wrestle a little bit and maintain composure, mound presence, and just pound the zone."
Matsuzaka (3-2) allowed five runs and five hits in six innings with four walks and four strikeouts. Lucas Duda hit his team-high 12th home run for the Mets.
New York cut it to 5-2 on back-to-back doubles by Daniel Murphy and David Wright in the eighth, but Mark Melancon pitched a perfect ninth for his 14th save.
Polanco’s home run came on a full-count pitch with one out after Pedro Alvarez hit the first of his three singles and Worley also singled.
Polanco sounded a little like famous Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne when he talked about his approach at the plate in that situation.
"I just fight, fight, fight, swing, swing and try to make contact," Polanco said. "I stayed with my approach and I hit it."
Polanco hit a slider after Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud had called for a changeup.
"I shook off d’Arnaud and that ended up being a big mistake," Matsuzaka said through a translator. "I apologize to him about that."
New York activated CF Juan Lagares (ribcage) from the 15-day disabled list before the game. … Mets RHP Dillon Gee will make his second rehab start Sunday, pitching for Class-A Brooklyn while on a 55-pitch limit. He has been on the DL since June 11 with a strained right lat. … Pittsburgh LF Starling Marte was not in the starting lineup for the second straight game. He felt concussion-like symptoms after sliding into second base Tuesday night at Tampa Bay. The head and neck are no longer a problem, but Marte is still feeling the effects of a jammed right middle finger. … Pirates LHP Francisco Liriano had a 30-pitch bullpen session, the first time he had thrown off a mound since going on the disabled list June 11 with a left oblique strain. … New York RHP Jacob deGrom (1-4, 3.75 ERA) faces RHP Brandon Cumpton (3-2, 4.93) in a matchup of rookies Friday night.