Pirates get wild, wild, wild: All the weirdness from the Pirates' three comebacks to beat Cardinals
When the Pirates and Cardinals first met this season at the beginning of May, the Pirates lost three consecutive heartbreakers on walk-offs. The Redbirds won with a two-out single in the bottom of the 10th on May 1, a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 11th on May 2 and a walk-off home run from Kolten Wong on May 3.
On Saturday, the Pirates tried to make up for that by coming back three separate times in a game that was weird, wild, and, considering it went 14 innings, had plenty of time to get weird again.
The game wasted no time getting strange early. In the top of the second, Mark Reynolds appeared to strike out swinging, but home plate umpire Vic Carapazza ruled that he had fouled it off. The slugger then took the next pitch and launched it into the stands to open the scoring. Upset at the unfairness that governs the universe, Clint Hurdle and Francisco Cervelli argued and/or tried to go back in time which is against the rules and both were ejected.
The Cardinals would slowly grow their lead, taking a 3-0 advantage into the bottom of the fifth thanks to a sacrifice fly and a fielding error by Pedro Alvarez. With Comic-Con in full swing, the Pirates' own Batman, A.J. Burnett launched his first home run in nearly 10 years to put the team on the board.
That score would hold until the bottom of the eighth. After Andrew McCutchen was walked, he advanced to second on a fielding error by Mark Reynolds on a pickoff attempt. This would prove important.
Jung Ho Kang would later single and McCutchen would race for home, the throw getting past Molina and allowing Kang to race to second. Were McCutchen not on second, he never tries to score. And if he never tries to score, Kang never gets a chance to go to second base. And if Kang isn't on second base, then he can't score when Alvarez picks up only his third hit against left-handed pitchers this year and the game never goes to extra innings.
Pretty sure that's called the Butterfly Tattoo on the Lower Back Effect or something.
The weirdness would continue in the extra frames. In the top of the 10th, Molina lead off with a single. When Reynolds failed to lay down a sacrifice (which would have only been his fourth sacrifice of his career), Molina was caught off guard and was picked off by Chris Stewart -- a surprising move considering Molina's skill and familiarity with the tactic.
Of course, it turned out for the best that Reynolds failed to lay down the bunt as he would hit another second-chance home run to give the Cards a 4-3 lead.
But the Pirates would come back. In the bottom half, Kang took a double and stretched it into a triple with his hustle. Standing on third, he was able to come around to score on Stewart's RBI single. Stewart, of course, wouldn't have been playing if not for Cervelli's ejection.
This one wasn't over yet, though. The teams would remain knotted at four into the top of the 14th, when Jhonny Peralta drove in Matt Carpenter with a single to give St. Louis a 5-4 lead. That was it, right? The Pirates couldn't possibly have another trick up their sleeve? Wrong.
After Neil Walker singled to start the inning, McCutchen stepped to the plate. The same McCutchen who was 0-for-3 with three walks heading into the at-bat, with his 17-game hitting streak on the line. What would he do? He would hit the ball very, very, very hard.
With the team's third comeback and a 6-5 win secured, the star center fielder decided to just saunter on home. According to Elias, he's just the third player since 1900 to extend a hitting streak of at least 15 games with a walk-off homer.
If you happened to be following along on Twitter at the time of the hit, this is what your timeline probably looked like:
Not a bad ending to a Saturday night marathon. Far better than whatever movie you could have been going to see.