Pedro Alvarez had to hustle in order to seal his inside-the-park home run against the Cubs. (Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
It's rare to see an inside-the-park homer; it's even more rare that you get to see an inside-the-parker as part of a back-to-back-to-back sequence. But that's exactly what Pirates fans got Friday night, when Pedro Alvarez, Russell Martin and Garrett Jones hit three homers in a row off Jake Arrieta in the fourth inning of Pittsburgh's game against the Cubs.
Alvarez got the party started with a blast to right-center that hit the top of the wall and bounced away from Ryan Sweeney and Nate Schierholtz. He motored around third base and scored easily after the relay throw into the infield was dropped, giving Pittsburgh its first inside-the-park homer since Alex Presley did it versus the Cardinals on April 20, 2012. It was also Alvarez's National-League best 33rd homer.
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Pittsburgh wasn't done yet, though, as the next batter, Russell Martin, stepped to the plate and hit a homer the old-fashioned way, launching an Arrieta fastball over the wall in left for his 14th shot of the season. And before the fans could even settle back down, Garrett Jones took a curveball way out to center for his 14th homer of the year. Those three straight dingers tied the game at three, and perhaps most impressively, all came with two outs.
It'd been 10 years since Pirates fans had seen their team go back-to-back-to-back; the last Pittsburgh trio to do it was Jason Kendall, Brian Giles and Reggie Sanders on Aug. 20, 2003 against St. Louis. Even more amazingly, it was the first time the Pirates had hit back-to-back-to-back homers at home since July 6, 1955, when Jerry Lynch, Frank Thomas and Dale Long all went deep off of Brooklyn Dodgers starter Carl Erskine.
As for inside-the-parkers, the Pirates have a fair number of those: The team has hit 57 of them since 1945. Unsurprisingly, the team leader in that category is Roberto Clemente, who hit eight in his Pirates career. Pittsburgh also has one walk-off inside-the-parker (Richie Hebner on Sept. 3, 1973 off the Cardinals' Eddie Fisher in the 13th inning) and two to lead off a game (Cal Abrams on June 30, 1953 against the New York Giants and Omar Moreno on June 21, 1980 against the Astros). And then there are the pair of inside-the-parkers from Jay Bell and Brian Giles in 1989 and 2002, respectively. Bell's is in Baseball-Reference's Play Index as a flyball to short right field; Giles' is even weirder, a line drive to short right field that somehow scored three. Google turns up little in description for either of those homers, presumably because they temporarily broke the space-time continuum, so if anyone can provide real evidence that Brian Giles hit an inside-the-parker or that Jay Bell took four bases on a pop-up, leave word in the comments.
Meanwhile, going back to the present, the trio of homers from Alvarez, Martin and Jones weren't enough to give Pittsburgh a win, as Jason Grilli blew a one-run lead in the seventh inning on an Anthony Rizzo two-run homer. That loss dropped the Pirates out of a tie for first place in the NL Central, as the Cardinals beat the Mariners in 10 to take sole possession of the division.