Clemente legacy in the air at PNC Park
The Associated Press
PITTSBURGH — James McCann went deep twice for the first multi-homer game of his seven-year career as the White Sox drilled Pittsburgh 8-1 Wednesday on a night the Pirates honored Hall of Fame outfielder Roberto Clemente.
Each member of the Pirates and other Puerto Rican-born players across the major leagues wore Clemente’s long-retired No. 21 jersey in tribute to the icon, who died in a plane crash at age 38 on New Year’s Eve 1972 while delivering relief supplies to earthquake victims. A large “21” was mowed into the grass in right field below the 21-foot high Clemente Wall and not far from the Roberto Clemente Bridge that connects PNC Park’s North Shore neighborhood with downtown.
“One of the things that we have talked about a lot is Roberto Clemente, the player, is one of the greatest players of all time,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. “Roberto Clemente, the humanitarian, was probably the greatest humanitarian in the history of our sport.”
The immaculately tended grass was largely left alone. McCann and the White Sox did their damage elsewhere.
“He’s our Jackie Robinson,” said current right fielder Gregory Polanco, who is from the Dominican Republic. “He’s our idol. He’s the Great One, man. He’s the player we all know growing up, like, ‘Hey, Clemente. He was the man. It was outside the baseball field. That’s what makes it even more, the greatest person, what he did and the way he was helping people always.”
McCann’s fourth home run of the season landed in the grass beyond the center-field wall leading off the third. He took JT Brubaker (1-1) deep again in the sixth, a long two-run shot that landed beyond the tarps that cover the first section of bleachers. McCann’s teammates whooped as he rounded the bases, the first time in 590 career games he’s trotted home twice after knocking it over the fence.
Chicago rookie Dane Dunning (1-0) pitched into the seventh to earn his first career victory. Dunning allowed just three hits in six-plus shutout innings, with one walk and three strikeouts.
Yoan Moncada had two hits for the White Sox, who finished a 10-day road trip 6-3 to help them keep pace in the tightly contested AL Central. Nick Madrigal chipped in a two-run single during a four-run outburst in the fourth against Brubaker that broke things open.
Colin Moran doubled for Pittsburgh’s only extra-base hit as the Pirates failed to put together just their second three-game winning streak of the season. A night after putting together an inspired rally to win it in the ninth, Pittsburgh spent most of the night pounding the ball into the ground against Dunning.
Brubaker has been a pleasant surprise since being elevated to the starting rotation a month ago, putting himself in the mix to be part of the group in 2021. He struggled, however, against the best offense in the American League. The 26-year-old rookie allowed a season-high seven runs in 5• innings, leaving after giving up a second homer to McCann as his ERA rose from 3.96 to 5.34.
Game notes: Pirates: Steven Brault (0-2, 4.37) makes his eighth start and ninth appearance when the Pirates begin a three-game weekend series in Kansas City on Friday. … Pirates OF Anthony Alford underwent right elbow surgery on Tuesday, three days after fracturing the elbow crashing into the wall in center field.