Scahill's error begins nightmarish sequence
Pirates reliever takes blame for ninth-inning to forget
SAN DIEGO -- The Pirates lost Friday night's game at Petco Park in a wacky ninth inning that ended with Padres catcher Derek Norris becoming the first player in Major League Baseball history to hit a walk-off grand slam after striking out the first four times he came to plate.
"But that's not what cost us the game," said Pirates right-hander Rob Scahill, who pitched as nightmarish a ninth inning as anyone could ever imagine in the 6-2 loss at Petco Park. "It was the throw to first. I messed it up. Nobody feels worse about it than me."
The play Scahill is talking about came after he walked Jedd Gyorko to open the inning, a no-no in itself. Never walk the first batter you face in a tie game. Abraham Almonte followed with a sacrifice bunt back to the mound.
Scahill said he "babied the throw" and tossed it by first baseman Pedro Alvarez for a two-base error, with Gyorko heading to third and Almonte to second with no one out.
"That's a throw I've made a thousand times, But I just threw it away," he said. "If I make the throw that inning is over, but obviously it didn't work out that way for us. I'm was just going to shower it off, come back tomorrow and try and get us another win."
The error set up a crazy sequence of events that ended with Scahill missing with a back-door slider that Norris blasted into the Padres' bullpen in left-center.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle intentionally walked Cory Spangenberg to load the bases, thus setting up a force at every base. He then pulled out right-fielder Gregory Polanco, replaced him with Sean Rodriguez and planted Rodriguez directly in front of the second-base bag, giving the Pirates five infielders and two corner outfielders for the next two outs.
"It's not a weapon you can really count on winning the game with, but we've had some success with it," Hurdle said.
Actually, he had a lot of success with it Friday night. The Pirates recorded the first two outs when the Padres smacked grounders to the pulled-in, overloaded infield that were turned into force plays at the plate. Alexi Amarista grounded to second baseman Neil Walker and Yangervis Solarte bounced one to shortstop Jordy Mercer, sliding in front of Rodriguez to make the play.
Hurdle did the same thing on May 15 against Chicago, twice in an extra-inning game, and ultimately with the same results as Friday night. In the 10th inning of that game, Hurdle walked the bases loaded with one out, went to five infielders, and got Matt Szczur to fly out to Polanco, who erased Starlin Castro at the plate. Double play. Out of the inning.
Then again in the 12th, Hurdle walked the bases loaded with one out, put five guys in the infield, but Szczur singled to right to win the game.
This time he almost made it, didn't he? But when he went back to his normal configuration with two men out and the bases still loaded, sending Rodriguez out to right field, Norris hit it over everybody's head. Oh, the irony.
"The game is full of irony and that kid struck out how many times before that?" Hurdle said. "That's why you've got to keep playing the game."