The Bucs have come out on the wrong end of these seemingly endless extra-inning games too many times this season, but Tuesday night, Neil Walker's 14th-inning double gave them the go-ahead run in a marathon win over the Tigers.
The Pirates kicked off the game with a frustrating first inning in which they put four runners on base but failed to score, the main reason being Neil Walker got tagged out on an extremely close play at second while trying to advance on Verlander's wild pitch.
After that, though, the Bucs quickly jumped out to a three-run lead. They got one in the second when Jordy Mercer singled, Chris Stewart doubled down the line, and Gregory Polanco hit a sacrifice fly. Then they scored twice in the third. Starling Marte reached on a bunt, then went to third on Pedro Alvarez's double. Marte scored as Francisco Cervelli reached on a grounder up the middle as Miguel Cabrera failed to field the throw, and Mercer brought home Alvarez with a sacrifice fly.
Gerrit Cole hit a bit of a snag in the fifth, but got out of it thanks to some help from a Tigers fan. J.D. Martinez and Nick Castellanos reached on singles that the Pirates' infield defense failed to reach, with Martinez's single going through a big hole the Pirates left open when they shifted. Then James McCann hit a ball to deep right that the fan leaned over the wall to field. The ball glanced off the fan's glove, and it bounced high off the wall, scoring only one runner. It looked like the ball might have gone over the yellow line if the fan hadn't touched it, but it was impossible to tell that for sure, so it went as a double rather than a homer. Cole retired the next three batters, and the Bucs retained a 3-1 lead.
The Tigers singled twice the following inning, but Cole, presumably incensed that the Tigers had dared to score on him, whiffed Victor Martinez, Yoenis Cespedes and Castellanos to leave both men on.
Cole did allow a run on the seventh on Ian Kinsler's RBI double, and he gave way to Jared Hughes. Cole's night ended having struck out six batters and walked none -- not a dominant start by Cole's standards, but an awfully good one.
The Bucs got a run back in the top of the eighth, but then Tony Watson entered, and that's where the Pirates really got into trouble. Victor Martinez led off the inning with a single, and J.D. Martinez smashed a sinker to left center two batters later to tie the game at four.
And then the game churned on endlessly -- Arquimedes Caminero came on to pitch, then Mark Melancon and Antonio Bastardo for an inning apiece, and Deolis Guerra for two, as the game passed four hours and then five. There was a Sean Rodriguez triple in there in the 13th, but both teams failed to score.
In the 14th, Stewart hit a one-out single, and Gorkys Hernandez replaced him on the bases. Josh Harrison then doubled on a bizarre play. From the middle of the infield, it probably looked like Rajai Davis had made an outstanding play, and Harrison nearly passed Hernandez on the bases as Hernandez tried to race back to first after having rounded second. Harrison made clear that Hernandez needed to advance, though, and Hernandez did, only without tagging second again as he ran to third. It was a bush league mistake by Hernandez, who has to be kicking himself for doing something that dumb so soon after being promoted. But Walker bailed Hernandez out as he laced an opposite-field double and Harrison scored the go-ahead run, shouting in excitement, and probably relief, as he rounded third.
Guerra then pitched his third inning in the bottom of the 14th and put two runners on, but induced a double play from Victor Martinez to finally end the game after five hours and 34 minutes. Phew. Three cheers for Guerra, who's come up huge in his first week in the big leagues. (Ironically, the fact that he pitched three innings in a long game tonight is likely to result in the Pirates sending him back to Indianapolis tomorrow. EDIT: Or not ... as WTM points out, Guerra is out of options. My fault.) And good for the Bucs for emerging with a win in this one. They're now 43-33.