This game was a long one. 14 innings and the Pirates lost. They played a bad baseball game and while the Cardinals didn't play good baseball, at all, they Pirates were just a little more determined to lose the game, thus they did.
Charlie Morton had another really good start for the Pirates and while he was only able to go six innings he was top notch through the first five before some ground balls found holes in the sixth when he gave up both of his runs thanks to the first three hitters of the innings reaching before getting a double play ball and then a pop out after allowing a RBI single. Morton gave up seven hits but four of those came in the sixth inning so the overall line was basically brought down by that one inning. Sometimes it happens for Morton since he is such an extreme ground ball pitcher some of the balls that are put in play are just going to find holes. For the most part he was on his game tonight and while he only went six he was able to keep the Cardinals bat at bay.
The Pirates were going into this game to face the Cardinals ace, Adam Wainwright. The Cardinals pushed back Wainwright's last start to ensure they he would pitch against the Pirates, and not the Cubs (I think), so this was a pretty pivotal game to the Cardinals, as it was to the Pirates also. The Pirates key to beating Wainwright was going to be getting to him early. They did. The first inning started off quickly with Starling Marte making the first out on only one pitch but the Pirates made him throw 32 pitches after that in the inning highlighted by a two run opposite field bomb by Andrew McCutchen. Jordy Mercer added on the next inning with a solo home run and the Pirates got after him early. 80 pitches through four innings.
Despite the high pitch count Wainwright was still able to go seven innings and threw 122 pitches to save what has been a pretty bad Cardinals pen. The Pirates had their chances to add on to the three run lead but they couldn't do it and to be honest that was a little discouraging. I do think they really needed to put this game away early but it seemed as if Wainwright found a little bit of a groove but despite that they have hit him pretty well over the recent past and as the game unfolded those one or two extra runs would have made a huge difference.
The offense did miss their opportunities though, and it cost them. In the fifth inning Marte led the inning off by getting hit with a pitch and then stole second base but was stranded on third. In the eighth inning Neil Walker led the inning off with a double but was stranded there thanks in part to Cardinals reliever Trevor Rosenthal striking out the next three batters.
This really came into play in the bottom of the eighth inning when Clint Hurdle decided to go with Bryan Morris and while Morris did a pretty nice job to start the inning things sort of came apart later when it was first and third with two outs for Matt Adams. For some reason Hurdle decided to keep Morris in the game and didn't even have Tony Watson throwing (especially head scratching since the Pirates were off yesterday and only faced two batters in four pitches on Sunday) but it worked out. Actually it wasn't as much Morris as it was really outstanding defensive positioning by the Pirates. Before the Adams at bat the Pirates moved Walker back about 15 feet off the infield grass and Adams hit a screaming liner to shallow right field and Walker was able to leap and make the play. You can talk about fielding percentage all you want but the Pirates lead the league in batted balls turned into outs. Big credit this year to Hurdle for opening up a bit and letting his staff implement the defensive shifting as much as they have. It is a huge reason the Pirates have been so successful.
The Cardinals tied the game in the bottom of the ninth inning. This is how it happened:
(gif credit to SB Nation)
That happened with one out and after Mark Melancon got a strikeout he walked Carlos Beltran and then Allen Craig hit a really nice down and away cut fastball to right field to tie it.
This game got weird after that. It really seemed as if neither team wanted to win. Vin Mazzaro came in to pitch the tenth for the Pirates and promptly loaded the bases with one out but was able to wiggle out of it with a strikeout and fly out but coupled in that inning was some brutal defense and points where you didn't know if Mazzaro was ever going to throw a strike. The bottom of the 11th was a little more unique as the Pirates gave up a leadoff single to Daniel Descalso before he moved up on a wild pitch. He ended up moving to third with one out they walked Craig to get to the pitching hitting because the Cardinals had no bench players left. The Pirates brought in Josh Harrison from right field and pitcher Seth Maness hit into a 6-9-3 double play. A 6-9-3 double play. For real.
Even more weird was in the 13th inning when the Pirates loaded the bases with no outs that included an Alvarez infield single (really) and they come up with nothing. With the bases loaded Harrison bounced into a 5-3 double play. At this point I think you realize I am only putting in the weird things that happen in the game. It seems like I am going through each inning but that is because this is a bonkersly bad game. Did I just make up the word bonkersly? Yes. Well, in the bottom of the 13th the Pirates were again playing no doubles defense with two outs and all that did was cost them a double. Rather than throw to Beltran they walked him AND Craig to load the bases for the pitcher who Jeanmar Gomez struck out. Loading the bases to face a pitcher with two outs isn't a bad move but it is just really something you see a lot of.
The Cardinals scored in the 14th with a one out single. Boo.
The Pirates did not deserve to win this game. They had unlimited mental lapses in the game and it was just overall a shitty game. Have to bounce back tomorrow.