Saturday, September 24, 2016

Last Man, Last Strike Is Enough: Stallings' Walk-Off Gives Bucs 6-5, 11 Inning Win Over Washington

After two outs in the first, the guy drafted ahead of Jamerson Taillon, Bryce Harper, doubled off him when JT hung a curve. To add injury to insult, Gregory Polanco had to leave the game after kissing the LF wall chasing down the hit. Fraze went to left and Alen Hanson came in to play second. Afer all the ado, Jamo got out of it with no more damage. Gio Gonzalez gave up a two-out walk to Cutch before closing out the frame.

Stephen Drew doubled with one gone in the second and Ryan Zimmerman followed with another. Danny Espinosa dropped a down-Broadway heater into the shrubbery and the Nats were up 3-0. Then Gio doubled. Oddly, Jameson struck out the side to bookend the extra-base hits. Hanson legged out an infield roller with one away and Freeser followed with a soft lob to right. J-Bell lined out, moving Hanson up, and JT helped the cause with a grounder up the middle to chase him home. Fraze followed with another knock to make it 3-2. Harper opened the third with a dying quail to left. Hanson booted the third out, so Jamo went DIY and spun a whiff to close the frame. Cutch led off with a triple and JHK's grounder tied the game.

Alen Hanson had two hits and scored twice tonight (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

It was a 1-2-3 fourth for the Nats. Freeser walked and that was all the action. JT tossed another quiet frame in the fifth. JHK walked with two outs; a pitch later it was the sixth. Antonio Bastardo took the hill as JT was at 87 tosses after giving up six hits, a walk and whiffing seven. Wilson Ramos welcomed him with a second-pitch homer. A K was followed by a double, walk and Jared Hughes. A whiff and infield knock loaded the sacks, then a walk brought in a run and Zach Phillips. He whiffed Harper to stop the bleeding at 5-3. Hanson and Freeser singled off Koda Glover. Marc Rzepczynski took the ball, and after an out walked Jason Rogers. Fraze bopped a sac fly to make it 5-4. Blake Treinen was waved in - Dusty must be paid by the hour - and finished the frame. We're at the 2:40 mark after six innings.

Fraze had a knock and chased in a pair (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Phil Coke made his first Bucco appearance in the seventh and put up a zero. JHK drew a walk in a pesky, eight-pitch plate trip. S-Rod followed with a knock and old chum Ollie Perez answered the phone to face John Jaso, who was swapped out for Jordy. He was served a 3-2 meatball, but got under it and popped out. Then Shawn Kelley was called in and fanned Freeser. Felipe Rivero toed the rubber in the eighth and tossed a quick, clean frame. The Bucs hit a couple of solid balls, but they all found leather.

Juan Nicasio worked the ninth and gave up one-out, back-to-back singles. After a whiff - that's 32 straight games with a K - JHK muffed an inning-ending ball, but Juan coaxed a roller to first to negate it. It was Shark time, accompanied by a vid and a cheer from the few thousand hardy fans remaining. After an out, Cutch singled. JHK dribbled a ball, and Wilson Ramos' throw for the force at second was off, but Espinosa made a nice play to get the out, though it took review to overturn the original safe call. P-Flo ran for Kang and S-Rod shot a ball into center for a two-bagger, eventually chasing Florimon, who was caught watching the ball at the start, all the way around to tie the score; the successful challenge saved Washington a run and maybe the game. Harper made a sliding grab to end the frame; it was a sno-cone but survived a challenge.

Cutch had two hits and walked twice (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Tony Watson took the ball in the 10th; a leadoff infield knock was overturned on review. A fly ball was caught without a challenge, followed by a double by Wilmer Difo. 10 pitches later, Trea Turner finally whiffed. The Nats went dancin' with Melancon for another frame and he tucked the Bucs in this time around. Wade LeBlanc took the bump in the 11th to face the 2-3-4 hitters. He walked Anthony Rendon with two outs and came back with a K. Yusmiero Petit gave up a ground rule double to Fran with an out and walked Andrew intentionally, then P-Flo unintentionally. S-Rod whiffed chasing a curve that was in a different time zone. The last bench player, Jacob Stallings, grabbed a bat. He fell behind 0-2, worked the county full, and lined a slider over the third baseman's head into left for the walk-off. Baseball has some beautiful moments.

Four hours and 36 minutes, 11 innings, 17 pitchers, 403 pitches, 25 hits, 10 walks, 25 LOB...and it comes down to Mark Melancon blowing a save and Jacob Stallings with a walk-off knock. Ah, September baseball. Well, the Nats are gonna have to wait for their champagne and the Bucs, well, that last nail is ready but hasn't been driven yet.

Jacob Stallings second MLB hit was a walk-off knock (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)
  • Cutch extended his hitting streak to 11 games. He, S-Rod, Alen Hanson and Freeser had two knocks each.
  • Gregory is being treated for facial contusions (bruises) after his face plant.
  • Bryce Harper has never homered at PNC Park, the only NL field where he hasn't gone yard.
  • The rep for Ivan Nova confirmed that the Bucco FO has made "multiple" offers for a contract, but said no deal is imminent. It's a soft year for starting FA pitching, and we'd be surprised if Nova doesn't test the waters unless he gets an offer he can't refuse from the Pirates. He's not eligible for a qualifying offer since he was traded after the season started and doesn't have to worry about a lost draft pick devaluing him.
  • @hankschulman of the San Fran Chronicle tweeted that "sfgiants made comparable offer to pirates for Melancon, including big-leaguer and minor-leaguer. Bucs preferred nationals offer" w/o naming names.

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