Maybe a win against the Astros should have been easier and faster, but in the end the Astros handed it over. An error allowed the Pirates to win, 5-4. It was a weird game all around, one that saw Brandon Inge play 1st base and a homerun into the river.
Jeanmar Gomez started for the Pirates, and today’s start didn’t go as smoothly as the last few. The Astros took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a Jason Castro sacrifice fly. However, Andrew McCutchen tied it up in the bottom of the inning with a solo homerun. It would have been a two-run homer if Starling Marte hadn’t been caught stealing during the previous at-bat.
Jeanmar recovered from his rough start and pitched a perfect second inning. And then a perfect third inning. And then a perfect fourth. He started off the fifth inning with a groundout before running into trouble again. Matt Dominguez, the second batter of the inning, homered to take back the lead. After a single, a sacrifice bunt, and a walk, Jake Elmore singled to score Marwin Gonzalez and give the Astros a 3-1 lead. An infield defensive mess allowed the Astros to score their fourth run.
Elmore took off for 2nd base, and Russell Martin threw the ball to Clint Barmes. Barmes didn’t make the catch, allowing Elmore to reach safely. Meanwhile, Robbie Grossman took off from 3rd base. Neil Walker, backing up Barmes, threw a one-hopper home. Martin was unable to catch it, and the error went to Walker. More importantly, the Astros now had a 4-1 lead, and after one more walk Jeanmar’s day was done. He pitched 4.2 innings, giving up 4 runs, 3 earned, on 5 hits and 2 walks while striking out one.
Vin Mazzaro took over and got out of the inning with a strikeout. Mazzaro pitched a scoreless sixth inning as well, just walking one.
Cutch led off the bottom of the sixth inning, reached on an error, and ended up at 3rd base. Garrett Jones followed with a double, cutting the Astros’ lead to 4-2. Despite another hit and three more baserunners in the inning, the Pirates were unable to score another run. Even in spite of a spectacular pinch-hit walk by Gaby Sanchez.
Tony Watson pitched two scoreless innings, giving up 2 hits and one walk, to get the Pirates safely to the bottom of the 8th. Walker led off with a single, and two batters later it was Pedro Alvarez’s turn. Pedro was 1-for-3 coming into the at-bat. Pedro took no time launching the first pitch into the river for a two-run homerun, scoring Walker and tying the game at four.
Justin Wilson took over to pitch the top of the 9th and pitched a scoreless inning, allowing just one baserunner on a walk, whom he quickly picked off anyway. The Pirates headed to the bottom of the 9th, tied at four with Marte, Travis Snider, and Cutch due up.
Marte singled. Snider grounded into a forceout, ending up safe at 1st. Cutch singled, sending Snider to 3rd. Brandon Inge hit a ground ball to the pitcher, who had trouble coming up with it. By the time he did, Cutch was safely at 2nd and Inge was safely at 1st. Snider stayed at 3rd. Walker struck out looking, and Russell Martin came to bat with two outs and the bases loaded.
Martin popped up the sixth pitch of the at-bat to shallow right-center field, and second baseman Elmore was there to catch it.
“Fail,” Martin thought.
“A fly ball. Looks like we’re going to extra innings,” Greg Brown said.
Astros right fielder Jimmy Paredes had other ideas. He must not have heard Elmore calling for the ball. The two collided, and the ball was dropped. “I think the crowd had as much to do with that win as anything else,” Clint Hurdle said. “The noise in the bottom of the ninth inning made it hard to hear.”
“Honestly, I saw the right fielder charging in and I held my breath for a second, and the unexpected happened,” Martin said. “I was happy, but it was kind of funny.”
Snider scored on the play, and the Pirates had a walkoff win on an error. Martin was asked after the game if it was the craziest game he’d ever seen. “It’s up there,” he responded. “That’s why baseball’s fun. You can see something new on any given day, and we definitely saw some things we’d never seen before.”
“The game’s crazy sometimes,” Hurdle said. “There’s not an answer for everything. You just gotta go out and play.”
Tomorrow, the Pirates look to continue dominating the Astros. Good old Erik Bedard makes the start for the Astros. He’s 0 and 2 with a 6.67 ERA. AJ Burnett (3-4, 2.73 ERA) is pitching for our Buccos. I’m looking forward to the matchup.