In a game that went 6+ hours and included a 2 hr 20 min rain delay in the second inning, The Pirates battled their way to a 14-inning victory thanks to a Russell Martin pinch-hit walk off single against the Milwaukee Brewers to complete a 3-game sweep by the score of 2 – 1.
Charlie Morton and Kyle Lohse started the game at 1:35pm and lasted only two innings each as a storm system slowly came through causing a 2 hour, 20 minute rain delay. Before the delay, Morton and the Pirates allowed an unearned run in the top of the second when Clint Barmes misplayed a Yuniesky Betancourt grounder with one out. He would score two batters later on a safety squeeze by Logan Schafer to make it 1 – 0.
After the delay, Vin Mazzaro and Tyler Thornburg took over for their respective teams and were lights out as Mazzaro pitched five perfect innings and Thornburg went the same while allowing two hits and a run.
It looked as though the Barmes error would cost the Pirates their 8-game win streak until they were finally able to scratch the scoreboard in the eighth. Starling Marte would lead off the inning with a single and reach second by way of a Neil Walker groundout. Andrew McCutchen would then come up and knock a single to center tying the game at 1.
The Pirates had two separate occasions where they could have ended the game earlier but were unable to succeed. They loaded the bases in the 9th with two out when Brandon Inge came up in a pinch-hit situation. He would work the count full before chasing a curveball out of the zone to end the inning. They also loaded them up in the 13th with one out.
That’s when Brewers manager, Ron Roenicke, brought an outfielder in to set up a 5-infield alignment with Starling Marte on third and Cutch on second. Josh Harrison would come up and walk to load the bases, then Pedro Alvarez grounded into a 3-6-3 double play to end the threat. “The five-man infield, you don’t see it often. It can complex guys just like infield-in can complex hitters, sometimes,” said manager, Clint Hurdle. “Truth be told, can you get to a better spot with the fastest cat on your team at third and you got Pedro swinging the bat.”
Tony Watson would complete his third scoreless inning of relief in the fourteenth making way to the walk-off in the bottom. The bullpen pulled out yet another near-perfect performance as they went 10 scoreless innings while allowing only two hits while striking out seven. Hurdle, as expected, is extremely pleased with the bullpens performance, “A truly incredible job from everybody out there. It’s one unearned run on the day and no walks in 14 innings, it’s just really good.”
Gaby Sanchez would lead off the 14th with a single and surprisingly stole second. “I knew, all I had to do was get a good jump and…..go to second.” After a Michael McKenry flyout, Jordy Mercer walked setting up Russell Martin’s pinch-hit appearance.
Martin’s grounder would get past the diving effort from Jean Segura and into short-center field allowing Sanchez to, again, surprisingly score from second, ending the marathon. “In a situation like that, they’re giving up a double. If you hit a double, you’re going to score anyway, so, a base hit, they’re going to try to run it down and Martin was able to hit it up the middle and I was able to truck it home.”
Final Score: Pirates 2, Brewers 1
The Pirates finish the first half of the regular season with a 51 – 30 record, good enough for first place in the NL Central by two games as well as good enough for the best record in baseball.
(Photo Credit: Keith Srakocic)