For eight innings, this looked a lot like it was going to be another big, positive statement game from the Pirates. They came out of the gate with a two-run Andrew McCutchen home run, got a solo Jordy Mercer homer to build the lead, held onto the lead behind a solid-enough Charlie Morton start, and even seemed to have some sort of strange sabermetrically-rooted serendipity on their side after Neil Walker made a leaping catch of a Matt Adams line drive while positioned way out in shallow right field with two outs and the tying run on base in the bottom of the eighth inning.
Then Daniel Descalso hit a lazy fly ball at Starling Marte and Marte misplayed it off of the heel of his glove and it all went to hell.
Descalso scored the tying run (with two outs, of course) three batters later, and that ignited one of the strangest extra innings games I can remember. In the tenth inning, the Cardinals put runners on first and second with no one out after a walk and a Gaby Sanchez error on a bunt attempt. A successful bunt put runners on second and third, so the Pirates intentionally walked the bases loaded. That meant that they needed either a perfectly placed groundball or a strikeout from Vin Mazzaro. Mazzaro struck out Pete Kozma and got Descalso to fly out. In the eleventh, Matt Carpenter lead off with a single and went to second on a wild pitch, then moved to third on a ground out. The Pirates intentionally walked Carlos Beltran to bring up reliever Seth Maness, who was forced to bat because Mike Matheny had long run out of position players. The Pirates pulled Josh Harrison in from right field and stuck him right behind second base, presumably to help out with bunt defense. Maness grounded a ball to Barmes and despite what looked like some initial confusion with Barmes, Harrison, and Walker over how to cover second, the ultra-rare 6-9-3 double play was recorded. The Pirates threatened in the 13th when Andrew McCutchen lead off with a single, moved to second on a wild pitch, and then to third on a Pedro Alvarez infield single. 'Cutch was stranded there when he didn't score on a groundball that Pete Kozma bobbled, then Josh Harrison hit into a double play after an intentional walk.
The weird, torturous game finally ended in the 14th when Adron Chambers singled to left field and Jon Jay just barely slid past Russell Martin's tag after Starling Marte unleashed a laser beam to the plate that almost made what shouldn't have been a close play into an out.
I don't really have much more commentary here. I refuse to put too much stock into one loss. This was a weird and painful loss for sure, but given that all of the weirdness nucleated off of a realy flukely play on Marte's dropped fly ball, I'm hesitant to read too much into the things that happened in extra innings. The Pirates have lost four in a row now with a combination of sloppy baseball and bad luck. That's not good, but all that the losses have done is tighten the NL Central. The Pirates are still in first place with 44 games to go and they still have Francisco Liriano starting tomorrow.
On August 19th last year, the Pirates beat the Cardinals 6-3 in a 19 inning game to maintain a narrow lead over the Giants, and Cardinals in the wild card race. Despite the disappointing loss, the Cardinals were 11 games better than the Pirates over the remainder of the season, they won the wild card, and they almost went to the World Series.. The outcome of one game, no matter how painful it seems, never decides anything.