Friday, June 20, 2014

Game of the Day (6/19/14)

Pirates 4, Reds 3 (12). Cincinnati's Homer Bailey took on Pittsburgh's Jeff Locke.

The Reds picked up a run in the first courtesy of Billy Hamilton, who doubled, stole third, and scored on Joey Votto's sacrifice fly. Bailey was perfect for the first three innings, and his teammates added a run in the fourth when Votto doubled and came the rest of the way around on a pair of flyouts.

Pittsburgh had its first baserunner reach in the bottom of the fourth when Gregory Polanco led off with a single. Gaby Sanchez singled later in the inning as well, but the Pirates didn't score until the fifth. That rally began with one-out singles by Clint Barmes and Chris Stewart. Locke bunted into a force at second, but Bailey then committed a balk to bring home a run. Polanco reached on an infield hit, and Starling Marte and Andrew McCutchen both singled as well, bringing in the tying and go-ahead runs, respectively.

Locke was perfect in the sixth, while Bailey had rather more trouble; Pedro Alvarez doubled, Barmes singled, and Locke walked to load the bases with two outs. Sam LeCure relieved Bailey and coaxed a forceout from Polanco to end the inning. The bullpens took over from there; Tony Watson allowed a walk and a single in the top of the seventh before stranding both Devin Mesoraco and Zack Cozart, while Logan Ondrusek was spotless in the bottom of the inning. Mark Melancon worked around a Todd Frazier single in the eighth; Ondrusek and Manny Parra combined on a scoreless bottom of the inning, partly thanks to Barmes being caught stealing after his single.

Jason Grilli relieved in the top of the ninth, and with one out, allowed a game-tying homer to Mesoraco. Cozart doubled with two outs before being left on. Jonathan Broxton walked Stewart and Marte in the bottom of the ninth, leading the Reds to insert Aroldis Chapman with two outs. Chapman struck out McCutchen to send the game to extras, and after Jared Hughes threw a scoreless tenth (Frazier singled but was caught stealing), Chapman struck out the side in the bottom of the inning.

Hughes was perfect in the eleventh, while Tony Cingrani allowed a leadoff double to Barmes and a walk to Russell Martin before retiring the next three Pirates (partly thanks to the fact that Pittsburgh had to use Vance Worley as a pinch hitter, and the pitcher struck out on a foul bunt). Justin Wilson worked a 1-2-3 twelfth, and the Pirates ended it in the bottom of the inning; Gaby Sanchez singled and was balked to second, Josh Harrison was intentionally walked, Barmes was hit by a pitch, and Martin walked to force in the winning run.

Ah, the extra-inning walkoff walk, one of baseball's most anticlimactic moments (especially when it's not on a full count, as this one wasn't). Even before the ending rally, this game had plenty to recommend it, starting with the from-thin-air run that Billy Hamilton produced in the first. Throw in an excellent two-out balk-inclusive rally from the Pirates in the fifth, a game-tying homer in the ninth, and a four-hit game from Clint Barmes, who (a) hadn't done that since 2009, and (b) has apparently spent 12 years in the majors, because I hadn't been made to feel old yet today. (We have just passed the ninth anniversary of his injury due to carrying deer meat.)

That's an excellent baseball game, and it's yet another one coming from the Pirates, who have restored a healthy lead in the race to be the most thrilling team of the year.

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