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Pirates outlast Nationals in very long final game, 11-8

Pittsburgh Pirates v Washington Nationals Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

The Pirates finished a season that seemed like it’d never end with a game that seemed like it’d never end. The game lasted nearly four and a half hours, and featured 30 hits and 14 walks. The Pirates stranded ten runners and the Nats a remarkable 16. Clint Hurdle frantically tried to get every player in Pirates’ history into the game. (Happily, MLB turned down his request to activate Brandon Inge.) In the end, the Pirates prevailed, 11-8.

Some Pirates who are probably looking for roles next year had nice games, especially Max Moroff and Jacob Stallings. Moroff drove in four runs and Stallings had three hits and three RBIs. Steven Brault didn’t do himself any favors, but a couple relievers got through tough spots.

The Pirates looked plenty competitive in the top of the first, thanks to the inability of Nats’ starter Gio Gonzalez to throw strikes. A pair of two-out walks loaded the bases and Gonzalez hit Jordan Luplow with a 3-2 pitch. Max Moroff then got his second straight, bases-clearing extra base hit, lining a double down the left field line. The hit also marked a long, slow climb for Moroff to the Mendoza line following a rough start to his time in the bigs. (He finished the season at exactly .200.) Jacob Stallings followed the double with a single to make it 5-0.

Unfortunately, Brault’s control wasn’t any better than Gonzalez’. He started off the bottom of the first with a double, a walk and a three-run HR by Anthony Rendon. Brault recovered to strike out the side, then had to survive a bases-loaded situation in the second.

Brault came unglued in the third. Two hits and two walks made it 5-4 with the bases loaded and no out. That finished Brault’s day, but Angel Sanchez, of all people, emerged from Ciriacoville to strand all the runners. Sanchez also threw a scoreless fourth, striking out Bryce Harper.

Andrew McCutchen managed a good end to his season in the fifth, starting a rally with a one-out double and leaving for a pinch runner. (In an interview today, Neal Huntington said the Pirates’ “best club in 2018 has Andrew in center field.” While remaining typically cryptic, it’s impossible to square that with any thought of declining Cutch’s option.) Singles by Josh Bell and David Freese brought in a run and chased Gonzalez for Joe Blanton, whom I didn’t even realize was with the Nationals.

In the bottom of the fifth, a different reliever had to work out of trouble. After Johnny Barbato issued two one-out walks, Jack Leathersich -- who’s having a decent audition for next year’s pen — gave up a single to load the bases, but struck out Trea Turner and then got Harper to ground out on a 3-2 pitch.

The Pirates stretched the lead back to four in the sixth. Stallings drove Moroff in again, doubling after Moroff had walked. A groundout by Starling Marte later made it 8-4. Dovydas Neverauskas surrendered a pair of runs in the seventh, but the Pirates in the eighth got the lead back to where it had started at five. Bell and Stallings drove in runs with singles, and Moroff got one in with a bases-loaded walk.

The bottom of the ninth was a chore. George Kontos had to bail out a struggling Dan Runzler, although the two runs charged to Runzler were unearned due to Jose Osuna dropping a routine fly. That left the score 11-8 and the Pirates’ final record at 75-87.