A long time in the works
Deolis Guerra has waited a long time for his first major-league win, and now, 10 years into his professional career, he's finally got it. Guerra threw three scoreless innings to close out a marathon 14-inning game win for the Pirates.
As celebratory music echoed through the clubhouse around him, the visibly excited right-handed described his first victory as "a dream come true."
"Unbelievable, it's amazing," Guerra said. "It feels great. It's a moment I've waited for my whole life. It finally came."
After the Pirates scored a run in the top of the 14th, Guerra ended up having to face two fellow Venezuelan-born major leaguers to reach his goal. While Miguel Cabrera was able to reach on a single, Guerra induced a double play ground ball from Victor Martinez to end the game.
"It was great. [Cabrera] is one of my favorite players, and to be able to face him in that situation is an honor for me," Guerra said. "It's an amazing feeling. He is one of the best in the game."
Clint Hurdle recognized not only Guerra's achievement, but the contribution he's made in his short time with the club.
"Guerra shows up. That's fantastic," Hurdle said. "That's three out of four days on the mound. 10 years of toiling, and to come back and get the win tonight and give us three more innings, it's an outstanding effort by him."
Pirates almost run themselves out of a win
The Pirates didn't make scoring the winning run easy on themselves. Chris Stewart hit a one-out single in the fourteenth and then was lifted for pinch runner, Gorkys Hernandez. Josh Harrison promptly doubled into deep center field, but Hernandez thought Tigers Rajai Davis had made a sprawling catch on the drive. As he rounded second, Hernandez stopped and reversed course back to first base, touching second on his way. After taking a few steps past second he ran into Harrison, who signaled for him to head to third. However, when Hernandez reversed course again, he failed to retouch second and was eventually called out on appeal. Fortunately for the Pirates, Neil Walker followed with two-out double to score the eventual winning run from second.
"I didn't think we'd get away with it," Hurdle said jokingly. "Yeah, it's something that when it happens no one likes being a part of it. You don't like to see it happen. ... He lost sight of the ball and put us in a tough jam, but then Walker was able to respond."
Harrison described his view of what happened:
"Originally what I thought was that he touched second going to third and when he was coming back [to first] I didn't think he touched it," Harrison said. "So, I was like, ‘We're going to be good.' But when they showed the replay, I realized he touched it and cut across. I didn't get a chance to see it all when it was happening."
Martinez doesn't respect Pirates
Victor Martinez had strong words about the Pirates and Gerrit Cole following the game.
After Starling Marte was hit by a pitch in the top of the fourth, Cole hit Martinez with a first pitch fastball in the bottom half of the inning. When he was asked if he thought he was hit on purpose, Martinez was blunt:
"Yeah, everyone knows that," Martinez said. "I mean, I have no respect for no one on that team, including Cole and their coaching staff. If they think that Verlander hit Marte with a 1-2 count, he was battling that at-bat. If they really think we did it on purpose, they're playing the wrong sport. Nothing else to say."
(HT to Jeff Riger of 97.1 The Ticket)
Missed opportunities almost haunt Pirates
The Pirates put seven men on base in the first two innings and only scored one run, thanks in large part to leaving the bases loaded in the first. In the third, their efficiency picked up, as they scored two of the three runners that reached base. On the night, they ended up leaving 19 runners on base and were 2-for-16 with runners in scoring position.
Hurdle said that during the game he didn't give much thought to all the men left on base.
"I'm past that," Hurdle said. "It's so what, now what. Once you don't get them in, you didn't get them. You got to find a way to get more of them out there, to get somebody in. That's kind of the way we roll. ... I'm past the point of getting frustrated."
Sacrifice flies score two runs
Two of the Pirates' first three runs came on sacrifice flies, one by Gregory Polanco in the in the second and the other on a Jordy Mercer fly out to right field in the third. The Pirates now have 20 sacrifice flies, just 15 less than they had all of last season.
Best slide of the season
Mercer's sacrifice fly resulted in one finest slides of the season. With the score 2-0, Pedro Alvarez took off for home after Mercer's looping fly ball was caught in relatively shallow right field. Alvarez and the ball reached the plate at about the same time, but a picture perfect head first slide provided the difference.
"It absolutely was [one of the best slides of the season]," Hurdle said. "Pedro does a lot of good things. One the bases, he's a very good base runner. He's good at it, he takes pride in it. And any other [slide], but that way he probably doesn't score the run."
The Tigers strung together a lot of good at bats against Gerrit Cole, nicking him for nine hits and two runs over 6.2 innings. Many of the hits were the product of ground balls that found their way through holes in the Pirates infield. Unable to strike out hitters with his fastball early, Cole turned to his slider late in the fifth with good results. Between the fifth and the sixth, Cole notched four strikeouts, all of them ending on wipeout sliders.
Hughes gets big out
In the seventh, the Tigers broke through for their second run and closed the gap to 3-2 after Ian Kinsler hit a two-out double to score James McCann. Jared Hughes came in to relieve Cole, with Miguel Cabrera due up. After thowing a first pitch sinker out of the zone, Hughes came back with another sinker that sawed off Cabrera and led to a broken-bat ground out to short. The escape in the seventh was one of the pivotal moments of the ballgame.
"At that particular point in time, I had a lot of confidence in Hughes getting the ball where he needed to get it, and us getting through the inning," Hurdle said.