The word “tie” is very, very rarely used in Major League Baseball. But, Thursday night at PNC Park in front of 19,991 fans, that’s exactly what happened. The Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs tied 1-1 after an extended rain delay (one hour and 23 minutes) in the Pirates’ final home game of the 2016 season.
It was the first tie in the majors since 2005.
The game, which was called in the top of the sixth inning, was declared a tie and not suspended because the game has no effect on the postseason — the Cubs have already clinched the NL Central, and the Pirates are already out of playoff contention. So, the game won’t be made up.
Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle couldn’t recall ever experiencing a tie before in his 40-year major league career.
“I’m not sure I’ve ever been in a tie before,” he said. “You can look it up. I’m sure it’s somewhere.”
The Cubs run came in the second inning after a pair of infield singles. One of those singles came from Wilson Contreras, who then scored on a Tim Federowicz sacrifice fly.
Chicago rookie starter Rob Zastryzny didn’t allow any hits in the first two innings, but, in the third, leadoff hitter Eric Fryer singled on a 2-1 pitch.
That brought up a sacrifice bunt attempt for Pittsburgh’s starting pitcher, Ivan Nova. He lay down a clean bunt, but the throw to second base couldn’t be cleanly caught, and both Fryer and Nova were ruled safe.
After Jordy Mercer walked, Josh Bell hit a sacrifice fly to tie the game up and give the Pirates their lone run.
Nova made it through 5.1 innings before the game was called. And even before the game was called, it was clear during the first part of the rain delay that Nova was hoping to come back out and pitch. He was throwing in the cage to keep his arm fresh, but, after the delay reached 30 minutes, he knew his night was done, regardless of whether or not the game would resume.
He had seven ground ball outs and had 12 outs on three pitches or less. He threw 57 pitches, 43 of which were for strikes. Additionally, Nova didn’t walk any batters in his abbreviated game; in 64.2 innings with Pittsburgh, he only walked three batters.
It was Nova’s final start this season for Pittsburgh, and he finishes with a 5-2 record with the Pirates. While he didn’t talk much about his impending free agency, he expressed interest in possibly returning to the team.
“Hopefully things work out and I can come back here,” Nova said. “I hope that’s the case.”
Thursday was the Pirates’ first tie since August 24, 1998 when they did so against the St. Louis Cardinals at Three Rivers Stadium.
On the injury front, Hurdle stated Starling Marte wouldn’t be a lineup or bench option this weekend but that Gregory Polanco would return to the lineup. It’s also unclear what Jordy Mercer’s status is for the remainder of the season.
“You saw a couple of throws he made across the diamond and that’s basically all he’s got,” Hurdle said of his shortstop. “I’ve got to have a discussion with him for how we are best served moving forward.”
The Pirates conclude their 2016 season this weekend on the road against the St. Louis Cardinals. In Game One, Pittsburgh’s Tyler Glasnow (0-1, 4.91 ERA) will face St. Louis’ Carlos Martinez (15-9, 3.15 ERA). Glasnow made his first career Major League start against the Cardinals and allowed four earned runs in 5.1 innings of work.
Image credit: Vincent Pugliese/AP Photo