The Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the Detroit Tigers 5-4 in 14 innings last night, with Gerrit Cole turning in another great performance. He was in line for the win until Tony Watson could not hold the lead and the game went on for an additional five innings. Gorkys Hernandez committed a huge base running mistake in the fourteenth but the Pirates still prevailed and moved their record to 43-33, eight games back of the St. Louis Cardinals who lost to the Chicago White Sox in 11 innings.
The Pirates came close to scoring in the first inning after Gregory Polanco singled and Neil Walker, Andrew McCutchen and Jung Ho Kang all walked against Justin Verlander. However Pedro Alvarez grounded out to leave the bases loaded to end the inning. They would get on the board in the second inning when Jordy Mercer scored on Polanco’s sacrifice fly to left field.
Early on in the game both dugouts were unhappy with some of the calls being made by home plate umpire Chris Segal. Cole, always one to show his emotions on the field, needed to be calmed down by Chris Stewart in the bottom of the second inning. He did settle down and finish the inning with a ground out to Mercer.
The Pirates added two runs in the third inning and continued to make Verlander’s pitch count rise. Starling Marte bunted down the first base line and was safe after the ball took a hop past Miguel Cabrera. Alvarez doubled to right field and moved Marte to third. Marte came around to score on Francisco Cervelli‘s ground ball when Cabrera could not cleanly field the throw from Ian Kinsler. Mercer hit a sacrifice fly to right field which allowed Alvarez to score, giving the Pirates a three run lead.
The fourth inning saw both teams hit an opposing batter when Marte got hit in the top half and Victor Martinez in the bottom half. Martinez looked none to pleased after getting plunked, but this type of retaliation may start to be more common if Pittsburgh hitters continue to get hit.
The Tigers got a run in the fifth inning and almost ended up with two more. James McCann doubled to right and scored J.D. Martinez. Brad Ausmus elected to challenge the play, arguing that it was a home run due to a fan reaching over into the field of play. After deliberating, the umpires ruled that was not the case and the Tigers ended the inning by closing the gap to two runs.
Verlander was pulled in the seventh after walking McCutchen to start the inning. Al Alburquerque came in to finish the inning, striking out Marte and Cervelli and intentionally walking Alvarez. Likewise for Cole, he was also unable to finish the seventh inning. After Igeslias grounded out to first and moved McCann to second, Cole was able to strike out Anthony Gose. But Kinsler doubled to left and scored McCann. Jared Hughes was brought in to finish the inning and did just that, leaving the Tigers trailing by one run.
The Pirates were able to add on another run in the eighth inning on McCutchen’s single which scored Chris Stewart. Tony Watson came in and served up a game tying two run home run to J.D. Martinez. After this inning the Pirates would get a scoreless frame from each of Arquimedes Caminero, Mark Melancon and Antonio Bastardo.
In the fourteenth inning, Stewart singled and was replaced by Hernandez. Josh Harrison came in to pinch hit for Polanco and hit a ball deep to center field. Hernandez hesitated near second and thinking that it was caught, went back towards the bag. In all the commotion with Harrison arriving there, Hernandez broke for third. The only problem was that he failed to retouch second, and was called out when the Tigers appeal it.
Luckily, Neil Walker brought his stick to the yard.
Deolis Guerra pitched the fourteenth inning, his third of the game and earned his first major league win.
What Stood Out
Cole pitched another terrific game, even though by his standards he was probably unhappy. He did not walk anyone and struck out, so the only real blemish are the two runs and the nine hits. But he kept a powerful offense at bay and at the same time kept his team in the game the entire time he was on the mound.
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While the team did take eight walks last night, they also struck out 15 times and left 14 men on base. They had many opportunities to retake the lead once the Tigers tied it, and the Hernandez goof up at second was by far the worst mistake on the base paths tonight. But there have been other instances lately, such as Polanco on Friday night, where runners are not paying attention and cost the team unnecessary outs.
The three game series will continue tonight when A.J. Burnett faces off against Alfredo Simon. at 7:05pm. Burnett will look to win his first game since June 14th after being saddled with losses the last two times he has pitched. Simon, like Burnett, will look to bounce back from losses in his last two starts. Simon’s last two starts totaled only nine innings and he gave up 12 earned runs, so the Pittsburgh hitters will look to do some damage early and get into the Detroit bullpen. Both teams could make roster moves before the game due to the length of last night’s contest.