It lasted for almost five and a half hours and involved 43 players, including eight pitchers for the Diamondbacks who threw 249 pitches and seven for the Pirates who threw 261. Arquimedes Caminero earned the last two outs in his first career save in the bottom of the 13th by blowing heat past two pitchers: Patrick Corbin, who was pinch hitting, and Shelby Miller, who played the top of the 13th in left field.
Miller was in the field because the Diamondbacks were out of position players when Nick Ahmed was ejected in the bottom of the 12th for arguing a called third strike from home-plate umpire Marvin Hudson. He had a point, but in retrospect, he probably now wishes he had chosen the post-game victory interview to make it.
The Pirates had taken what seemed to be a commanding two-run lead in the top of the 12th. After a scoring opportunity appeared to evaporate when Francisco Cervelli was thrown out at third base trying to advance on an errant pickoff throw, Tyler Clippard walked Andrew McCutchen. David Freese drove in McCutchen with his third double of the game, and Starling Marte notched his fourth hit of the game driving in Freese with what is in most games known as an "insurance run."
But these are the dog days of April, this is the Pirates bullpen, and nothing is easy. Neftali Feliz came in in the bottom of the 12th and surrendered two tying runs to the relentless Snakes. It was the second two-run lead surrendered by one of the three "good relievers" within the Pirates increasingly worrisome relief corps. Melancon blew the first one in the ninth on Paul Goldschmidt's two-run homer, his second of the game.
Feliz began by walking Jake Lamb. After a nine-pitch battle, he also walked Nick Ahmed; but fortunately for the Pirates, umpire Hudson saw it differently and rang up a called third strike, leading to the out and ejection that would be key to the Pirates victory. The first of the Diamondbacks pitchers to pinch hit in the game was Zack Greinke. He lashed a hard single to Freese at third, who did well to stop the ball from going into the corner and hold Greinke to a single. Pitcher and soon-to-be left fielder Shelby Miller came in to run for Greinke, and David Peralta's double scored Lamb and moved Miller to third. Miller scored the tying run on a single past the drawn-in infield by Jean Segura, putting Peralta on third with the winning run. But Feliz, who to that point had had nothing, suddenly found something. He struck out Brandon Drury and Yasmany Tomas around an intentional walk to Goldschmidt, and the game moved to the 13th.
Thanks to the efforts of his teammates in the 13th, Feliz's 40-pitch, one-inning outing earned him what is known in statistical parlance as a "win." Josh Harrison and Sean Rodriguez tagged the eighth Diamondbacks pitcher, Evan Marshall, for back-to-back doubles, and Rodriguez moved to third on Gregory Polanco's grounder to first. After an intentional walk to Chris Stewart, the Pirates, also out of position players, pinch hit with Jonathon Niese, whose heroically dogged at-bat culminated in a hard-earned single that scored Rodriguez with another "insurance run."
A lot of things also happened during regulation play. These are a few:
- Francisco Liriano pitched pretty well. He went six innings, which has become the new standard for saying that a Pirates pitcher pitched pretty well. He did give up four runs, but three of those came on a home run by Welington Castillo that floated just down the line in left and hit the foul pole. Castillo tortured Pirates pitcher with three home runs over the weekend, and it will be good not to have to see him again for a while. Liriano was particularly effective in his last three innings, after the Pirates had taken an 8-4 lead. He did what Clint Hurdle calls "putting a foot down." There was not much more of that from the pitching staff after the sixth inning.
- The Pirates knocked out a good lefty, Robbie Ray, by doing what they do, making him throw a lot of pitches early in the game. As Bob Walk pointed out on the broadcast, the Pirates are using plate patience as the equivalent of body blows in boxing, wearing down the pitcher for a subsequent knockout. That came in the third and fourth innings, in which the Pirates scored eight runs. Ray lasted three plus; five runs were charged to Ray and three to his successor, Tyler Wagner.
- Andrew McCutchen struck out four times, swinging. Again for Cutch, April is the cruelest month.
- Paul Goldschmidt made a fielding error and a throwing error. That doesn't happen often. One extended the second inning and helped elevate Ray's pitch count, and the other led to an unearned run in the fourth. But then, there were those two home runs--which, it should be noted, were caught in right field by the same guy, wearing a glove and standing just past the fence behind Gregory Polanco.
- McCutchen faced Randall Delgado for the first time since Delgado hit him in the back in retaliation for Ernesto Frieri breaking Goldschmidt's wrist. He struck out. Swinging.
- Ryan Vogelsong pitched one good inning. With hitter-friendly/pitcher-unfriendly Coors Field looming, the Pirates and their weary pitching staff would have preferred three. The two runs he gave up in his second inning began the first Diamondbacks comeback that culminated in Goldschmidt's game-tying homer off Melancon in the ninth.
- Kyle Lobstein pitched two noisy but ultimately scoreless innings in relief. Good for him.
- The Pirates struck out 17 times.
- There was a group of jet-lagged men behind home plate who slept through much of the game. They missed a pretty good one.