There aren't a whole lot of things Juan Pierre does well. On a baseball field, I mean. He might make great eggs or be really adept at leaving concise but informative voicemail messages. However, on the field, he doesn't draw many walks. He doesn't hit for any power. He doesn't have a strong arm. Juan Pierre's entire game comes down to putting the bat on the ball and running really fast, and so far in 2011, that's been enough to make him one of the least valuable players in baseball.
But then, putting the bat on the ball and running really fast isn't a completely worthless set of skills. Sometimes that's all a batter needs to do. In the top of the ninth of a game on Thursday night, that was all Juan Pierre needed to do, and he did the snot out of it.
The White Sox and Blue Jays were even at 1-1 in the top of the ninth, and the Sox had two outs and two runners in scoring position. Pierre worked the count full against reliever Marc Rzepczynski, and then pulled a soft grounder to first base. For most batters, that would've meant the end of the inning. For Juan Pierre, it very much did not.
Pierre's speed forced a bad toss that he beat out anyway, and on the play, both runners came around to score and give the Sox a 3-1 lead onto which they would hold for the win. It wasn't the prettiest way to snap a tie, but it was the most Juan Pierre way, and all ways count just the same.
The game got to that point after some outstanding pitching by both Brandon Morrow and Phil Humber. Morrow didn't allow a hit until the fifth, and the only blemish on his seven innings was a Pierre RBI single in the fifth (that he pulled on the ground just by first base. He's not much for variety). Meanwhile, the only blemish on Humber's 7-2/3 innings was a Yunel Escobar solo homer to center on a hanging breaking ball. Morrow lowered his ERA to 4.38, while Humber lowered his ERA to 2.85.
After the starters came out, each bullpen pitched out of a minor jam in the eighth, setting up the decisive ninth. Alex Rios reached on an error by John McDonald to lead off, and he advanced to third on a wild pitch. Gordon Beckham was later hit by a pitch and promptly stole second. It was then that Pierre faced Rzepczynski and came up with his groundball.
Ahead 3-1, Ozzie Guillen handed the ball to Sergio Santos in the bottom of the ninth, and Santos pitched around a walk to nail down his eighth save of the season.