Pirates making a habit of playing in memorable games
Over the course of 162 games in a regular season that stretches from March to October, bizarre things are going to happen. Freak plays. Fluke hits. Long delays. Extra innings that threaten to roll on until dawn. It's part of what makes baseball a simultaneously wonderful and awful sport.
The past few seasons, it seems the Pirates have had more than their share of oddities. In July 2011, umpire Jerry Meals blew a call at home plate and sent the Pirates to a 4-3 loss in 19 innings against the Atlanta Braves.
Thirteen months later, the Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals were on the field for more than six hours in a 19-inning game.
On back-to-back days last season, the Pirates and Cardinals played a total of 26 innings to decide two games.
Those wild games were a topic of discussion in the clubhouse a few days ago as the clock ticked past midnight.
Players joined the conversation after they were taken out of the lineup in what became a 16-inning marathon between the Pirates and Chicago Cubs.
“It's such a long season and baseball is such a kooky sport that different things happen each night that you never thought you'd see happen,” reliever Tony Watson said. “It seems we have at least one extra-long game a year over the past three years. You never know when it's going to happen, and you never know what's going to happen in a game. Each night is a new experience.”
It is not always a smooth ride. Wednesday's game lasted 5 hours, 55 minutes — the longest baseball game ever in Pittsburgh — and most of the players didn't leave PNC Park until about 2 a.m.
Each team wasted a couple of great opportunities to win. The Cubs went 1 for 16 with runners in scoring position, the lone hit being Luis Valbuena's two-out RBI single that tied it in the ninth inning. The Pirates were 3 for 12 with RISP and somehow found a way to blow a bases-loaded, none-out chance in the 13th inning.
“When you get turned back, you find a way to push 'em back out there and keep going,” manager Clint Hurdle said.
As the backup catcher, Tony Sanchez knew he'd be the last man off the bench.
The Cubs used pitcher Travis Wood as a pinch-hitter in the 13th inning before finally giving in and sending second-string catcher John Baker to the plate in the 15th.
As he waited for a chance to play, Sanchez didn't merely sit around in the dugout.
“You ride the bike as much as possible,” he said. “You get in the (batting) cages. Take your swings, stay loose. Try to stay as warm as possible.”
In the end, Sanchez was the hero. He slapped the game-winning single into left field and briefly vanished beneath a dogpile at first base.
“There's no better situation to get the job done,” Sanchez said.
It was the first time since 1964 that the Pirates started the season with back-to-back extra-inning games and the first time in club history they opened with a pair of walkoff victories.
“Good teams find ways to win those games,” Watson said. “We've been on the good side of that the last couple of years. It's still a long season. Hopefully if we run into another situation down the road where we're playing 16 innings, we'll come out on top again. Those are fun games. People remember them.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates notebook: Fastball command issues hurt Cole against Cubs
- A field day on social media as Pirates’ Rodriguez attacks Gatorade cooler
- Starkey: Pirates gaining bad big-game rep
- Rossi: Cole is simply not good enough for Pirates
- Pirates no match for Cubs, Arrieta in wild-card loss
- Pirates notebook: Tempers boil after Arrieta beaned
- Managers opt for different strategies in wild-card contest
- Cubs’ Fowler, Schwarber deliver to sink Pirates
- Pirates notebook: It’s official: Cole to start wild-card game against Cubs
- Rossi: Time to give Pirates owner Nutting his due
- Fans connect with their beloved Pirates through homemade signs