Game Recap: Stallings (Of Course) Walks It Off in 12

The Pirates and Marlins engaged in an extended bumblefest at PNC Park.  Miami’s tomfoolery, though, turned out to be a bit more impactful than the Pirates’ poor hitting and roster construction, and the Pirates managed to get Jacob Stallings to the plate at exactly the right time.  The result was an 8-7 walkoff win in 12 innings.

The home team took an early two-run lead against Marlins’ rookie-of-the-year candidate Trevor Rogers.  In the second, they got two runners on, Chase De Jong bunted them to second and third, and Adam Frazier slashed a single to left to drive them both in.

At that point, the Pirates’ offense went into one of its extended shutdowns.  After Frazier’s hit, Rogers and reliever Richard Bleier retired 16 of the next 18 batters, the only exceptions coming on a walk and an error.

De Jong meanwhile couldn’t duplicate his first start for the Bucs.  He sailed through the first three innings, but then the longballs started.  In the fourth and fifth, he gave up three, amounting to five runs.

De Jong came out after five innings.  Sam Howard replaced him and the second hitter he saw, Lewis Brinson, lined a ball just over the fence in the left field corner.  It was called a home run, but the replay showed it clearly crossed on the foul side of the pole.  Howard ended up throwing two scoreless innings and David Bednar one.  So the score stayed 5-2.

Ke’Bryan Hayes brought the offense out of retirement when he led off the bottom of the eighth with a double.  The Bucs then managed to score four runs with one infield hit and a lot of help from Miami.  After Bryan Reynolds walked and Stallings popped up, Ben Gamel, batting .188 with no power, came up to hit for the team’s starting first baseman.  (Colin Moran was reportedly in the Pirates’ dugout, so this nonsense should stop as soon as tomorrow.)  Gamel fanned and Gregory Polanco got in infield hit to load the bases.  Reliever Anthony Bender came on to walk Kevin Newman and hit Ka’ai Tom, forcing in two runs to cut the Miami lead to 5-4.

That brought up Bednar and, with the game on the line, Derek Shelton went to his one remaining pinch hitter:  the .144-hitting Michael Perez.  Perez grounded weakly to the first baseman, but Bender fumbled the easy flip and two runs scored to put the Pirates up, 6-5.

Richard Rodriguez came on for the save, but instead picked up his second blown save.  A single and a walk started the ninth, then a one-out single tied the game.  The Pirates went down in order in the bottom half.

The tenth inning showed just how much excitement the free runner has added to the game.  In both the top and bottom half of the tenth, the free runner came around to score on a ground out and a sacrifice fly.  It’s hard to see how the fans could stand so much action.

The Pirates got a break in the 11th.  Kyle Crick walked the leadoff man, but Starling Marte hit into a double play and Crick fanned the next batter.  They got another in the bottom half when their own free runner, Kevin Newman, went to third with no out on a wild pitch.  Ka’ai Tom then struck out on a pitch out of the strike zone.  With the Pirates, as always, carrying a short bench, Shelton had to send J.T. Brubaker up to hit for Crick.  Brubaker hit the first pitch hard toward the middle but the pitcher knocked it down and threw him out.  Frazier then popped up on the first pitch.

Clay Holmes kept the Marlins off the board in the top of the 12th with two fly outs and a ground out, none of which advanced the free runner.  In the bottom half, Hayes nearly ended the game, flying out deep to center, with Frazier going to third.  Miami, apparently unaware of Stallings’ history in these situations, intentionally walked Reynolds and, sure enough, Stallings lined the second pitch to center for a walkoff single.

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