When talking about this game, pretty much everyone is going to mention Wandy Rodriguez getting pulled too early seventh inning. After a season of sitting on his hands most of the times that his starters struggle, Clint Hurdle decided that TONIGHT was the night to get Wandy Rodriguez out of the game at the first sign of trouble, even though at the point he was pulled he'd only allowed just three hits in 6 2/3 innings and he'd had very little trouble with Dioner Navarro at any point during his first two plate appearances. You know what? Honestly, I didn't think it was an indefensible move. Navarro's got a bad platoon split as a left-handed hitter and Hughes has been flat-out excellent his last few times out. I thought Rodriguez had a few mroe outs in him, but honestly, what do you have a bullpen for if it's not to get big outs? There is an alternate timeline that's running parallel to this one in which Hurdle left Wandy on the mound and Wandy served up a two-run double to Navarro and everything else played out exactly the same, including all of the outrage at Hurdle over leaving Rodriguez on the mound. I dunno. I guess I get why people are upset, but that particular move didn't strike me as so hugely egregious.
If we want to sit around and pick out Clint Hurdle Decisions That Were Completely Befuddling from this debacle, I still can't figure out why Chase d'Arnaud ran for Garrett Jones in the 10th inning. Andrew McCutchen drew a leadoff walk against Aroldis Chapman to lead off the tenth. Jones followed up with a second straight walk, and was immediately replaced. Chase d'Arnaud doesn't really do anything well other than run; he's a poor defensive short-stop and he's a terrible hitter. He'd make a great pinch-runner, except that he wasn't even the lead runner. Slotting him into the lineup took Jordy Mercer's glove out of the game and gave the Pirates a d'Arnaud/Alvarez/Tabata 4-5-6. What does that accomplish, if it's not putting good speed on the bases to score the go-ahead run? As it turned out, d'Arnaud batted instead of Jones twice. Once was with the bases loaded and no outs in the 14th inning, after Alfredo Simon had just walked Eric Fryer. d'Arnaud swung at the first pitch and made an out, then couldn't make the play on the ball in the hole in the bottom of the 14th.
I could keep going, but it all feels academic at this point. With their season melting down around them, the Pirates somehow found themselves in the 14th inning of a game with Brock Holt, Jose Tabata, Eric Fryer, Chase d'Arnaud, and Rick van den Hurk on the field. Every single one of those guys was in Triple-A at some point in August for good reason. Gaby Sanchez and Starling Marte, in Triple-A in July, were out there, too. I know the club is dealing with injuries and I know that long games necessitate double switches, but how on earth can you finish a Major League Baseball game in a playoff race with Eric Fryer in right field while Garrett Jones was pointlessly swapped out for a pinch-runner four innings earlier? How can that be allowed to happen?
I remember being livid after the 19-inning loss to Atlanta last year, over umpiring, over poor managing, over everything. After this one, though? I don't really feel anything. If Eric Fryer and Chase d'Arnaud and Rick van den Hurk are the best the Pirates can do, what's the point in even getting upset? The Jolly Roger is down and the white flag is up. Same Old Pirates. So it goes.