The Pirates thought the intentional walk was on, but Clint Hurdle had other ideas
The Pirates found themselves in a tight spot in San Francisco on Tuesday. Pittsburgh clung to a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the ninth, but the Giants put runners on second and third with just one out as Ehire Adrianza came to the plate. Conventional strategy would call for an intentional walk in this situation: Use the empty base to set up a possible game-ending double play. So, Francisco Cervelli set up outside, and closer Tony Watson delivered ball one. There was just one problem: Manager Clint Hurdle had never actually called for a free pass:
As it turns out, Cervelli had misread a signal from the dugout, and the crowd was so loud that he couldn't hear the shouting from the Pittsburgh bench. Luckily, Watson noticed his coaching staff waving frantically out of the corner of his eye, and before he knew it, pitching coach Ray Searage was sprinting out to the mound to get everyone on the same page.
"Wait," you ask, "why would Hurdle call it off? It sets up the double play!" But you've been caught in one of history's classic blunders: Never get involved in a land war in Asia, and also, never doubt Clint Hurdle:
Watson needed just two more pitches to get a popout and a groundout to nail down the win. Still, his manager would prefer if everybody read the signs next time. As Hurdle told MLB.com's Adam Berry after the game: "We'll probably try not to use that [sign] again."