Baserunning error could have cost Bucs game without 14th-inning double
By Tom Singer
DETROIT -- "Gorkys' gaffe" might have found a permanent place in Pirates history -- had the Bucs not rendered it essentially trivial by overcoming it to beat the Tigers, 5-4 in 14 innings. Infamy grows in miscues, not in unlikely triumph.
"I didn't think we'd get away with it," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said bluntly about Gorkys Hernandez's baserunning blunder that cost the Bucs the go-ahead run in the 14th -- briefly.
Because, as teams of championship pedigree are apt to do, seconds later Neil Walker drilled a double into Comerica Park's right-field corner to drive in the decisive run and absolve Hernandez.
"To come through in that situation obviously was big for the team," Walker said. "Picking each other up ... that's what we do, that perseverance is what we're known for, and this was just another example of that."
Hernandez had just entered the game as a pinch-runner after Chris Stewart singled with one out. Josh Harrison came off the bench to drill a pinch-hit double into right-center field, on which Rajai Davis made a futile but consequential diving attempt.
Rounding second, Hernandez did not see the ball behind the prone Davis, and he thought it had been caught. As needed, he retouched the second-base bag when he turned to retreat -- but when Harrison frantically waved for him to continue, Hernandez didn't re-retouch the base and, on appeal by the Tigers, was called out.
Thus, instead of easily scoring the go-ahead run on Harrison's gapper, Hernandez became the inning's second out.
"It was a mess," said reliever Alex Wilson, who had given the Tigers 3 1/3 sharp innings before being removed following Stewart's single. "Rajai made a heck of an effort on that ball. From my seat in the dugout, it was hard to tell what really happened. Baserunning blunder ended up helping, but unfortunately it didn't end the inning for us."
"When something like that happens, nobody likes being a part of it. You don't like to see it happen," Hurdle said. "He lost sight of the ball and put us in a tough jam, and then Neil was able to respond."
"Strange play," Walker said. "Gorkys got caught in-between. J-Hay did a great job driving the ball, and to not score a run there was tough. So to score with the next hitter, that was fun."
The Bucs have had more than their recent share of basepath mishaps. During the recently concluded homestand, Gregory Polanco executed a nifty pop-up slide into third base when it was already occupied by a teammate. A couple of days later, Starling Marte did a headstand at the keystone.
The Pirates had won each of the games in which those gaffes had occurred. Now this, and Hurdle was complimented for having devised this unique secret weapon.
"We are going to need to stop that, though," Hurdle said, sternly, intolerant of bad ball, "and create some momentum in a different way."