Baseball / Sports

First shot at playoffs brings out best in Pirates' Ike Davis

As a first baseman for the New York Mets, Ike Davis never felt that twinge of anticipation players on contending teams get to experience this time of year.

Now, he can cross it off his bucket list.

Davis hit monster-long home runs in the past two games for the Pirates as they continued their quest for a playoff spot in the National League.

"It's been really cool. Every game means something, and it's exciting to come to the ballpark every day even if you're not playing," Davis said. "I know I'm going to be in a huge situation at some point in the game. I've never been there. This is new territory for me, and I'm really liking it."

Davis, acquired in an April trade, found himself in two such "huge situations" this week and delivered with two huge swings of the bat to help the Pirates win two of three games against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Tuesday night he mashed a three-run, pinch-hit homer over the right-center-field wall in the eighth inning that led to a 5-2 win. According to ESPN Stats & Info, it was calculated at 442 feet, the longest home run at PNC Park by a Pirate this season.

Wednesday afternoon, he clanked a two-run homer off a speaker towering above the seats in right-center field in the second, and it stood as the winning hit.

Had that speaker not interfered, it was headed for the sidewalk outside the park, and, perhaps, a bounce into the Allegheny River.

"Since the second half started, I've actually swung the bat pretty well. I haven't gotten crazy amounts of hits but I've really had good at-bats," Davis said. "I'm seeing the ball really well. I've walked a lot and hit balls to the warning track ... just missing pitches."

Historically, he has hit for better average in the second half -- .264 compared to .227 -- and has a knack for hitting home runs in bunches. But as part of a two-way platoon that turned into a three-man platoon when the Pirates moved Pedro Alvarez from third base to first base, he has lost at-bats.

He has had 79 plate appearances in the second half and has hit .258 since the break with five homers, 11 walks and 16 RBIs.

"I'm fine. You kind of get immune to stuff after a while," Davis said. "Kind of my career has been starting, not starting, so I'm used to it."

Davis learned early with the Mets that playing time is not something a player always can control. He's also level-headed and understands the hot bat is always going to win out.

"I feel really good. (Alvarez) came in and hits five home runs in two days and he deserves to play," Davis said, exaggerating a bit for emphasis. "So you can't really argue with that. I've always loved (Alvarez) and hope he does well."

The status of Alvarez is unclear at this point. He left the game Tuesday night against St. Louis because of left foot discomfort and has been walking with a high boot on that foot since.

Manager Clint Hurdle originally called the injury a sprain between two toes, but the club has yet to clarify officially what the injury is or the prognosis.

For now, at least, that leaves Davis and Gaby Sanchez to first-base duties.

Hoping for a few more trots around the bases when it counts, Davis will take it.

"You're playing for something. It's hard when you're mathematically eliminated," Davis said. "You hit a home run it's a great feeling still, (but) it's kind of like it didn't really matter. If you're still in it, it definitely feels a little sweeter."

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