Last night, everything went the Brewers’ way. Tonight, the Pirates caught their share of breaks and did what they needed to get to the 12th inning and win, 4-3, on Andrew McCutchen’s walkoff homerun. The win was the Pirates’ 22nd of the year; it’s fitting that number 22 won the game.
Early on, tonight’s game looked like it might go the way most games do against the Brewers. In his last four starts, Pirates starter Jeff Locke only gave up three hits per start. Tonight, he gave up a solo homerun to the second batter of the game, Jean Segura. Locke gave up a single in the 2nd and threw a perfect 3rd before giving up a double to Ryan Braun to lead off the 4th inning. Two batters later, Carlos Gomez doubled, scoring Braun and making it 2-1 Brewers. Locke gave up the Brewers’ third run in the 5th inning on a Jean Segura groundout after Norichika Aoki singled and ended up at 3rd base after two wild pitches. Locke’s day was done after 6 innings, having given up 3 runs on seven hits and a walk while striking out six. It wasn’t a bad outing; it’s just the Brewers.
The Shark Tank took over in the 7th inning, starting with Bryan Morris. He threw a scoreless 7th and 8th inning, giving up just one hit and walking one. Jason Grilli followed that with a perfect 9th inning, striking out all three batters he faced. “It was a tie ballgame and after we scored in the 8th I wanted an absolute stop in the 9th, and Grilli is my absolute stop,” Clint Hurdle explained his decision. “Then we had another great option in Melancon.” Mark Melancon pitched a scoreless 10th inning, giving up two hits and lowering his ERA to 0.45. Vin Mazzaro pitched a perfect 11th and 12th and received the win.
“We have confidence in each other, and we have each other’s backs,” Grilli said after the game. “It’s what sharks do. We bite when we have to.” What did Grilli think of pitching in the 9th inning of a tie game? “I’m a pitcher, and whenever I’m asked to get three outs, that’s what I try to do.”
The Pirates scored their first run in the bottom of the 1st inning, tying the game at 1. Starling Marte and Jose Tabata led off with consecutive singles. Andrew McCutchen flied out, and Marte advanced to 3rd. Garrett Jones followed that with a groundout, scoring Marte. Neil Walker walked before Pedro Alvarez flied out to end the inning.
The Pirates had one baserunner in each inning after that until the 6th inning. Walker led off with another walk. Two batters later, Russell Martin doubled, moving Walker to 3rd base. A Clint Barmes groundout scored Walker. Gaby Sanchez was up next, pinch-hitting for Locke, and walked. Marte flied out to end the inning.
After a 1-2-3 7th inning, Walker led off the 8th. He singled, and Russell Martin came through again with another double. This time, it was enough to score Walker and tie the game at 3.
The Pirates used every position player except Michael McKenry. Neil Walker reached base four times with two hits and two walks. Tabata was 3-for-5, and Martin had two hits, both doubles. The Pirates managed one hit in the 10th inning and nothing in the 11th.
Andrew McCutchen led off the bottom of the 12th against Mike Fiers. Cutch was 0-for-4 up until now. He fought through a six-pitch at-bat before hitting the ball deep to center field. “When I hit that one, I was thinking triple out of the box ’cause I thought it had no chance at getting out,” Cutch said after the game.
It did in fact get out, giving the Buccos a 5-4 walkoff win. Cutch was asked after the game why he was looking and pointing upward as he ran the bases. “I was saying, ‘Thank God that I got a hit.'” Cutch showed why he’s such an important leader to this team. He came through when they needed him and took time to praise his teammates and manager in his post-game interview.
“We’re gonna play nine innings – or as many as it takes every night,” Locke said after the game. “I think every win motivates you into the next day, gives you a little bit of firepower.”
Looking forward to tomorrow, Wandy Rodriguez (3-2, 3.62 ERA) will start for the Bucs. Yovani Gallardo (3-2, 4.70 ERA). The matchup looks to be in the Pirates’ favor. Hopefully “It’s the Brewers” won’t mean a thing tomorrow.