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Perrotto: Pirates Running on Empty on Opening Day



Michael A. Taylor, Pittsburgh Pirates

Through the miracle of Baseball-Reference, just anything that has happened in the sport’s history can be researched.

However, I was able to stump B-Ref on Thursday night. It couldn’t answer a question that arose during the Pittsburgh Pirates’ 6-5 win over the Marlins in 12 innings in the season opener in Miami.

My query: What is the record for the most baserunning blunders in an extra-inning game by the winning team?

If such a record existed, the Pirates likely matched it or broke it on Thursday. Regardless, the Pirates still came away with a stirring victory as they rallied from a 5-2 deficit after six innings.

However, the Pirates’ baserunning in the three extra innings was cringeworthy. It was somehow a disadvantage for them to have a runner on second base and no outs to begin each inning.

With the score tied at 5-5, Henry Davis began the inning as the automatic runner on second base.

At least, I think the term is automatic runner. I’ve also heard placement runner, ghost runner, zombie runner and – my favorite – Manfred Man.

Manfred Man certainly fit the Pirates best on Thursday. Their runners seemed blinded by the light throughout extra innings.

After Oneil Cruz struck out to begin the 10th inning, Jared Triolo reached base on third baseman Jake Burger’s error. Davis tried to score from second on the play but stopped three-quarters of the way down the third base line as first baseman Josh Bell retrieved Burger’s errant toss and threw the ball to home plate.

Bell’s throw was to the first-base side and Davis would have scored had he kept running.

If any team should know that Bell has had career-long throwing problems, it’s the Pirates. Bell was drafted by the Pirates in 2011 and spent his first five major-league seasons in Pittsburgh.

The Marlins then intentionally walked Jack Suwinski to set up the force and Michael A. Taylor obliged by hitting an inning-ending fielder’s choice.

Taylor was the Manfred Man to start the 11th inning and advanced to third base on Connor Joe’s ground out. Bryan Reynolds followed by hitting a grounder to Bell and Taylor broke for home.

However, it was an easy throw for Bell and Taylor was out. Ke’Bryan Hayes then struck out to end the inning.

Hayes started the 12th on second base after making the final out of the previous inning. After Andrew McCutchen struck out and Davis grounded out, Cruz was intentionally walked.

Triolo flared a single into right field to score Hayes with the winning run. However, there was still another miscue on the bases when Cruz was tagged out between third and home in a rundown to end the inning.

The Pirates did not need the insurance run as left-hander Jose Hernandez earned his first career save by pitching a scoreless bottom of the 12th while subbing for injured closer David Bednar. Yet running into the last out could have been costly.

In all, the Pirates had a runner thrown at home in the 10th, 11th AND 12th innings. It was reminiscent of when former Pirates manager Jim Leyland said of a struggling rookie, “It’s to the point now where he just keeps running until they tag him out.”

Yet the Pirates still won and are 1-0.

It was amazing stuff, but not a recipe for going 162-0.

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