In a game that started where most of the Padres runs came by bleeders, bloops, bunts and bad fundamentals by the Pirates, where 21 runs were scored without the aid of a home run, the Pittsburgh Pirates came back twice from three run deficits in their final at bat to pull off a stunning 11-10 victory in eleven innings, sweeping the three game series.
Tied 7-7 in the eleventh, Francisco Liriano took over for the Pirates and started it with an eight pitch walk to Eric Hosmer. Manny Machado lined a double into the left field corner and then the Pirates elected to intentionally walk slugger Hunter Renfroe to load the bases with none one out.
Wil Myers was caught looking at a 3-2 curve and Ian Kinsler popped out to second base. With the Pirates about to escape the inning, the Padres’ Manuel Margot perfectly pushed a bunt past Liriano to where first baseman picked it up with no one else close enough to cover the base, giving San Diego a one run lead - but then Austin Hedges dropped a flair into right to score two more and seemingly put the game once again out of the reach of Pittsburgh.
Phil Maton, who had worked a scoreless tenth for the Padres, stayed on for the eleventh to lock down his victory. Bryan Reynolds patiently led off with a seven pitch walk. Starling Marte was similarly patient, but home plate Mike Winters made two very questionable strike calls, the last on a 3-2 pitch, to send a dismayed Marte back to the bench. Josh Bell then fouled off five consecutive 3-2 offering before sharply grounding a single to right.
Three batters in and Maton was already at 26 pitches for the inning. Melky Cabrera didn’t wait, however, lining the first pitch into the right field corner, scoring Reynolds and cutting the Padres lead to 10-8. That was all Padres’ manager Andy Green wanted to see, as Matt Wisler was waved in from the bullpen.
Jacob Stallings, the Pirates’ last position player, stepped into pinch-hit and laced the second pitch into left field. Bell scored easily, the Cabrera, the tying run, was waved home by third base coach Joey Cora - the throw was wide as Cabrera slid on his belly acrossed home. All tied 10-10.
Down in the count 0-2, Jose Osuna fouled off two 1-2 offerings then pulled a ground ball into left for a single, putting the winning run Stallings at second. Diaz also found himself in an 0-2 hole but the normally aggressive swinger then watched four straight out of the zone to load the bases.
With the winning run at third with less than two outs, both the infield and outfield had to draw in close - but Frazier popped up on the first pitch he saw. With the defense able to align normally with two outs, in stepped Kevin Newman. He swung at a curve then took another in the zone. Again, Wisler was ahead 0-2 but he was not going to give Newman a fastball to drive as two more curves missed the zone. Finally, a fastball high and way filled the count at 3-2. Then one more curve, high and in, as everyone froze for an instant to see the umpire Winter’s call. Ball four. Newman walked, Pirates won.
The Padres had taken a 7-4 lead into the bottom of the ninth, as they handed the ball to Kirby Yates, the major league save leader with 26, who hadn’t blown a lead since Aug. 23, 2018, registering a hold or save in 60 of his last 61 opportunities.
Elias Diaz grounded softly to third base, but it clanked off Manny Machado’s glove for an error. Adam Frazier stepped in to pinch-hit and drove a 1-1 pitch up against the wall in right center. Second and third, nobody out. Kevin Newman rolled a slow grounder to short and just beat the throw for his eleventh infield hit of the year. Diaz scored, making it 7-5 Padres. Reynolds then rocketed the first pitch into right center for a single, scoring Frazier and bringing the Pirates within a single run.
Starling Marte then unexpectedly laid down a bunt, sharply to the pitcher Yates, who threw to first. With the trying run then at third and winning run at second, the Padres intentionally walked John Bell to load the bases and set up a force at home and a double play possibility. Melky Cabrera then tapped the ball towards first and Yates only had one play, at first, while Newman crossed the plate with the tying run.
Way back in the first inning, nearly five hours before it all ended, the Padres’ Fernando Tatis Jr led off led off the game and went to third on Machado’s one out double. Pirates’ fans breathed a sigh of relief when cleanup hitter Hunter Renfroe popped out to second, just into the grass. Tatis broke for home then slammed on the breaks, but as soon as Newman relaxed, Tatis took off again for home and was called out on a very close play, with catcher Diaz wandering far in front of the plate then lunging back to catch Tatis hand - but on video review the call was overturned and the Padres got the first run of the game.
Jose Osuna, starting at third base against the left-hander, led off the bottom of the third with a double to left and one out later came in to score when pitcher Steven Brault dropped a single into left center field. When Newman then grounded up the middle for a single, Brault raced to third, drawing a throw that allowed Newman to also move into scoring position. Brault scored the tying run on Bryan Reynolds subsequent sacrifice fly to deep center.
Steven Brault was inconsistent with his control, throwing 60 of 97 pitches for strikes, but generally stayed away from hard contact. The Padres did score twice more off him in the fourth, when Ian Kinsler led off with a single to center. Margot replaced him on a force, went to second on a wild pitch, then scored on a double that Austin Hedges dropped down the left field line, then Hedges scored when Tatis dropped a single in front of Reynolds in left.
Brault was relieved by Clay Holmes, who struck out Hedges but saw him reach on a wild pitch then after a ground out advanced the runner to second served up a single to Tatis. Marte threw home in vain, allowing Tatis to go to second and be in position to score when Hosmer singled off Richard Rodriguez.
Down only a single run in the eighth, with the score 5-4, Pirates’ manager Clint Hurdle inexplicably called on Geoff Hartlieb to keep the game close - or not. Things looked great when Margot and Hedges both struck out swinging, but Hartlieb then walked pinch-hitter Greg Garcia, and Tatis, and Hosmer. The bases load, and Hartlieb still in the game to face Machado who dropped a 2-0 pitch into left field for two more runs, extending the Padres’ lead to three.
But then again, without being down three, Pirates’ fans would have never had a chance for the most exciting double comeback victory in decades.