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Pirates outlast Cubs, win 4-3 in 16 innings

Apr 3, 2014, 2:14 AM EDT

Russell Martin Getty Images

Fortunately, rain is expected to wash over PNC Park on Thursday. Neither the Cubs nor Pirates are going to want to play an afternoon game after this.

The Pirates topped the Cubs 4-3 in 16 innings Wednesday night when the final player on their bench, backup catcher Tony Sanchez, delivered a pinch-hit single off Carlos Villanueva that scored Jose Tabata. It concluded a 5 hour, 55 minute game that ended just before 1 a.m. The two teams are currently scheduled to play again at 12:35 p.m., unless there’s a rainout.

Some highlights:

Emilio Bonifacio followed up his four-hit opener on Monday with four more hits in regulation and then a fifth hit in the 15th inning tonight. He became the first player since Dante Bichette in 1998 and just the fifth player in 100 years to have back-to-back four-hit games to start a team’s season and then the first known player to end the second game with nine hits. Bonfacio also made things interesting on the basepaths again, stealing two bases but also getting picked off first for the second straight game.

– Going along with the theme of the first three days, both closers blew saves, with Jason Grilli doing so in the ninth and Jose Veras returning the favor after an Anthony Rizzo solo homer gave the Cubs a 3-2 lead in the 12th.

– Villanueva, the Cubs’ fifth starter, fell to 0-2 before even getting a chance to make a start. He gave up the 10th-inning run in the Pirates’ 1-0 win Monday and then allowed a run in his second inning of work tonight.

– In the 13th, Clint Barmes managed to ground into a exceedingly rare 7-2-3 double play. The Cubs went to a five-man infield with the bases loaded and none out, bringing Junior Lake in from left field to play near third base. Barmes hit a grounder right to Lake and he made a clean throw home, starting the double play.

For Lake, it was his first opportunity as an “infielder” in the majors, but something he’s very used to. While he’s been exclusively an outfielder since getting called up last year, he played 418 games at short and 93 at third in the minors. In fact, he made just six appearances ever in the outfield before being called up.

– The Cubs lost despite outhitting the Pirates 15-8. They also had the game’s only two extra-base hits.

– The game featured three replays, all after the seventh inning, one of which resulted in an overturn.

According to Baseball-Reference’s Play Index, it was just the fourth 16-inning game to take place within the first two games of the season over the last 100 years. The last was in 2012, when the Blue Jays beat the Indians 7-4 in 16 innings on April 5. Prior to that, the Rays beat the Red Sox 9-8 in 16 innings on April 1, 2003 and the Royals beat the Twins 4-3 in 17 innings on April 9, 1969.

  1. renaado - Apr 3, 2014 at 2:15 AM

    I love this new Pirates team now ! They won’t give up without a fight.

  2. moogro - Apr 3, 2014 at 7:27 AM

    Arrrrrr! bear meat! and blood!

  3. apkyletexas - Apr 3, 2014 at 7:36 AM

    Putting starting pitcher Stolmy Pimentel in the bullpen to start the season really paid off, as he was easily able to pitch the last 4 innings after the 12th. That allowed Hurdle to use two fewer pitchers than the Cubs.

    I’m not sure why Travis Snider is batting second. We’ve gotten nothing from him in two games, and no production from the #2 spot until Sanchez came through as a pinch hitter in the 16th.

    • steelpenbucs87 - Apr 3, 2014 at 9:43 AM

      I agree – put Walker in the two hole against righty starters and have Snider hit down in the order. Against lefties have Tabata in the 2 hole and throw Walker down to 6th (behind Cutch, Sanchez, and Pedro)

  4. righthereisay - Apr 3, 2014 at 7:49 AM

    Buccos starting off with a pathetic .171 team average. Just like last year. It’s not like we are playing against the best pitchers in the league either.

    Both Grilli and Melancon are giving up hits in both games they’ve played. Kind of like they did late last year.

    Pirates are 2-0, but we all know (anyone whose watched the games) we could easily be 0-2.

    • southpaw2k - Apr 3, 2014 at 8:12 AM

      I never really liked the “this is team X’s record but they could just as easily have this much worse record” argument. So what if they *could* have a record much worse than what it currently is? It’s completely arbitrary to say what their record could be other than what it is now, considering the variables that happen in a single game of baseball (or football, or any other sport for that matter). Using such logic, I could say that I could easily have had several dozen accidents while driving my car on my record, but I don’t because I don’t drive erratically (for the most part).

      The Pirates are 2-0 and they aren’t playing their best baseball; heck, most of the league won’t be playing their best baseball until probably at least May. Just because they aren’t beating their opponent 20-2 doesn’t taint the fact that they’ve won their first two games of the season.

      • johnnysoda - Apr 3, 2014 at 11:58 AM

        Never underestimate the neuroticism of a Pirates fan.

    • apkyletexas - Apr 3, 2014 at 12:26 PM

      Unlike last year, we’ve won a couple games already.

      And don’t sell Jeff Samardzija short. I don’t know about the other Cub pitchers, but that dude can throw some nasty stuff. He was probably at his health/energy best for the first game.

  5. gnashbat - Apr 3, 2014 at 9:48 AM

    I wonder how many times has a pitcher had an 0-2 record two games into the season? Things can only go up from here for Villanueva! (Actually, that’s probably not true with way he is throwing the ball)

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