ST. LOUIS -- The Pirates' 4-3, 14-inning loss in the opener of this series with the Cardinals cheated fans of full appreciation of several extraordinary moments, buried in the rubble of the upsetting finish.
Faithful to the trite baseball adage that "every game can show you something you've never seen before," this one showed three things you may never see again.
• Sixth inning, bases loaded with Cardinals, none out:Charlie Morton's 1-2 pitch sails way behind David Freese -- and catcher Russell Martin blindly sticks his arm out and gloves the pitch, saving a run.
On the bench, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle goes, "Are you kidding me?"
Pitching coach Ray Searage: "That's one thing our catchers are really good at, catching pitches behind the batter."
Martin: "You only lose sight of the ball for an instant; you reach out for it and hope it's there."
• Eighth inning, Pirates holding on to a 3-2 lead, Cardinals on first and third with two outs: Left-handed pinch-hitter Matt Adams demolishes Bryan Morris' 1-2 pitch into short right -- but right at second baseman Neil Walker, who had shifted over from his regular post just prior to that very pitch.
Said third-base coach Nick Leyva, who is responsible for positioning infielders based on the intricate hitting charts provided by club analysts Dan Fox and Mike Fitzgerald: "We always have a starting point, but adjust based on what we see from the batter. If you watched Adams, he was dead-set on pulling the ball. The credit goes to Neil; he watched how he was swinging and moved when he felt the time was right."
• Eleventh inning of a 3-3 tie, Cardinals at the corners, one out: St. Louis reliever Seth Maness is at the plate, facing Jeanmar Gomez and a five-man infield. Maness hits a grounder to short, and Clint Barmes flips to right fielder Josh Harrison, who is standing right atop second and relays to first for the basic 6-9-3 inning-ending double play.
Hurdle: "That's the first time we used [the five-man infield]. Drew it up in the dirt and threw it out there. Backyard ball."