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Polanco goes deep in extras to give the Pirates an opening win

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MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Detroit Tigers Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Over the course of five hours and twenty-eight minutes I had thought of so many ledes for this game recap. Ivan Nova walked more batters in his first four pitches than he had in his first four games last year. Starling Marte’s triple in the ninth keyed a four-run inning. Felipe Rivero couldn’t find home plate with a road map. JaCoby Jones comes back to bite the team who signed him.

Eventually, in the top of the 13th inning, it was Gregory Polanco’s three-run blast to the center field seats, on a two-out, 3-0 count that was the decisive play. Tigers’ reliever Alex Wilson was working into his fourth inning and had retired the first two batters when both Adam Frazier (3-for-7) and Josh Harrison (2-for-5) grounded singles to left, bring Polanco to the plate. None of the first three pitches was close, but Polanco sat on the fastball down the middle and buried it deep to center field.

Steven Brault pitched three scoreless innings for the win, but still made it interesting by allowing a pair of one-out singles in the bottom of the 13th which once again brought the tying run to the plate - but then he struck out both Mikie Mahtook (1-for-7) and Jose Iglesias (1-for-6) to end the game.

The Tigers thought the game was over in the 10th when Josh Smoker, who had allowed a game tying double in the 9th trying to close it out for an ineffective Felipe Rivero, allowed a short line single to left by JaCoby Jones. With two outs, Jeimer Candelario was off with the crack of the bat from second base, but Corey Dickerson’s throw from short left field got to catcher Francisco Cervelli on the fly. Cervelli applied the tag, Smoker jumped in the air - but the umpire ruled safe as the Tigers’ players streamed onto the field in celebration. Several minutes later the official in New York overturned the call and the game continued - without manager Ron Gardenhire who was ejected for arguing the replay.

It was a good day for the Pirates offense, with the exception of Colin Moran, who 0-for-6 with three popups and an error at third base. The team collected 17 hits, three each by Frazier, Polanco and Josh Bell, and a pair each for Harrison, Marte and Cervelli.

Other than Michael Feliz and Felipe Rivero each allowing four runs, in the 7th and 9th respectively, the other five relievers combined for 7 13 scoreless innings.

The teams are scheduled to return to action at 1:10 p.m. Saturday, although keep an eye on the weather forecast.