Reds knock around starter Volquez, rout Pirates in easy victory
As he left the dugout to yank his starting pitcher in the third inning, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle tripped over the top step and sprawled face-first into the dirt.
It was that kind of night.
The Cincinnati Reds chased right-hander Edinson Volquez with a seven-run third inning Wednesday and routed the Pirates, 11-4.
The Reds' big inning included a controversial replay ruling that overturned an out call at home plate and led to Hurdle's third ejection of the season.
The game was delayed by rain for one hour, 15 minutes in the seventh inning. When play resumed after 11 p.m., only a few hundred fans remained in PNC Park.
“Some different things happened,” Hurdle said. “A couple plays at the plate, interesting calls. The game got away from us early, and we never recovered.”
What would a crazy game be without a wacky ending? Outfielder Travis Snider pitched the ninth inning and allowed two runs on one hit and two walks.
“All of us, pitchers and hitters alike, want to see what it's like on the other side of the ball,” said Snider, who hadn't pitched since he was a 15-year-old high school freshman. “It was fun. Tough day for my ERA, but I was able to settle down and throw some strikes when it mattered.”
Snider capped the inning by striking out Joey Votto with a 77 mph changeup.
“I'll remember that one forever,” Snider said, holding the game ball. “I don't think Joey would want to sign it for me, but that would be kind of cool.”
Snider is the first position player to take the mound for the Pirates since Josh Harrison on Aug. 9, 2013, in a 10-1 loss to the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field.
Volquez (4-6) lasted only 21⁄3 innings, yet still threw 64 pitches. He gave up eight runs on six hits and three walks, hit a batter and threw two wild pitches.
“One of those days,” Volquez said. “I didn't have any feel for the ball, and I struggled with all of my pitches. Everything was off. No rhythm.”
Volquez said he could tell as he warmed up in the bullpen before the game that he was out of sync.
“Yeah, I could tell a little bit,” Volquez said. “But you can't say that to your pitching coach before the game starts.”
The Reds got to Volquez for a run in the second inning.
Facing a defensive shift, Jay Bruce hit a hard bouncer directly at first baseman Ike Davis. However, the ball took a high, late hop over Davis' head for a single.
Devin Mesoraco walked. A sinker in the dirt squirted away from catcher Russell Martin, and both runners advanced. Skip Schumaker flew out to right field, scoring Bruce.
The freaky third inning started innocently enough with Billy Hamilton flying out to left. Todd Frazier singled and went to third on Votto's base hit. Another wild pitch scored Frazier and sent Votto to third.
Brandon Phillips lined an RBI double. Bruce walked. Mesoraco was hit by a pitch. The bases were loaded, and the conga line was on.
Schumaker singled, Phillips scored. Zack Cozart singled, Bruce scored. Volquez went out, Stolmy Pimentel came in.
Alfredo Simon tapped the ball toward the mound. Pimentel scooped it and threw from one knee to the plate. Martin caught the ball with his foot on the plate for a force out. It's a routine play catchers have made for decades.
Not so fast. Umpire crew chief Jerry Layne called for a video review to determine if Martin violated experimental Rule 7.13, which covers home plate collisions: “Unless the catcher is in possession of the ball, the catcher cannot block the pathway of the runner as he is attempting to score.”
After the replay was studied for 31⁄2 minutes, Layne took off his headset and gave a safe signal. The Reds were awarded their sixth run, Simon was credited with an infield single ... and a furious Hurdle was tossed by Layne.
“Russell tagged the plate and got out of the way,” Hurdle said. “The runner slid cleanly across the plate: He wasn't obstructed.”
During the game, Hurdle called MLB executive vice president for baseball operations Joe Torre to discuss the ruling from New York.
“We're still working our way through finding out what is and what isn't obstruction,” Hurdle said.
With the Pirates trailing 9-0 in the fifth, Pedro Alvarez led off with a double to the North Side Notch. With two outs, Gregory Polanco singled to center.
Alvarez was called out at home — even though catcher Mesoraco appeared to block the plate, as Martin did in the third.
The replay was reviewed for 21⁄2 minutes and Alvarez was called safe — but not because Rule 7.13 was broken. The video showed Alvarez beat the tag.
“They said mine was good. It's just that (Alvarez) was safe,” Mesoraco said. “But with that, too, you never know. So I guess you keep doing it the way you were taught and see what happens.”
Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.
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