Pirates notebook: 5-man infield pays dividends
ST. LOUIS — Tuesday night wasn't the first time Pirates utility man Josh Harrison had seen a five-man infield this season.
It was the first time he'd been part of one, however.
With St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Seth Maness batting and runners on first and third with one out in the 11th inning, the Pirates moved Harrison in from right field for a five-man infield — and it worked. Maness grounded into a 6-9-3 double-play.
“I just remember earlier this year in Milwaukee I was facing ... I think it was Francisco Rodriguez, and it was second and third and one out in the ninth inning and they brought in a fifth man, but I've never been on the defensive end of it,” Harrison said. “It was weird, but it was good. The batboy brought me out my glove right after they put (Allen) Craig on so I wasn't out there with my outfield glove at second base.”
That wasn't the only unusual defensive play that paid off for the Pirates. In the eighth inning, they shifted Neil Walker to short right field. He made a leaping catch on a line drive by pinch hitter Matt Adams to end the inning.
“We had a couple of chances where things looked a little unorthodox-crazy defensive-wise, but the scouting reports and everything, we just trusted it, and guys were in the right position to make plays,” Harrison said.
If you need a winter job ...
Russell Martin made an impressive catch when Charlie Morton threw behind David Freese in the sixth inning Tuesday night with runners on second and third. That made manager Clint Hurdle say, “Are you kidding me?”
“(Pitching coach Ray Searage) looked at me at the time and said that's one thing our catchers are really, really good at is catching that ball our pitcher throws behind the hitter, and I turned to (bench coach Jeff Banister) and said, ‘We don't work on that, do we?' ” Hurdle said. “He said, ‘No, we haven't put any time into that.' It's amazing. Absolutely amazing. I don't know how they do it. I had enough trouble catching it right in front of the plate with a little spin, a little break. … It's hockey goalie-type mentality.”
As fresh as one could hope
Because the Pirates had a day off Monday, their bullpen situation wasn't as dire Wednesday as it could have been. Relievers pitched eight of the 14 innings Tuesday. Jeanmar Gomez, who pitched three innings, was unavailable Wednesday, and Hurdle said they planned to have Jeff Locke in the bullpen just in case; it was his day for a side session. Justin Wilson, Vin Mazzaro and Bryan Morris pitched two out of three days going into Wednesday and were questionable.
Hurdle said Jason Grilli and Wandy Rodriguez threw Tuesday — not Wednesday, as he originally thought they would — with positive results. Grilli played catch up to 90 feet, and Rodriguez threw 40 fastballs and changeups in the bullpen.
Tuesday's 14-inning game matched the Pirates' longest of the season and was their longest time-wise (four hours, 55 minutes). They had one other 14-inning game this season — June 30 versus Milwaukee — that lasted 4:12 and resulted in a 2-1 win. It was the Pirates' 15th extra-inning game of the season — they're 9-6 in those game — and came almost a year to the day after the Pirates and Cardinals played a 19-inning game at Busch Stadium on Aug. 19, 2012. The Pirates won, 6-3.
Karen Price is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @KarenPrice_Trib.
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