ST. LOUIS -- The Pirates' 4-3, 14-inning loss in the opener of this series with the Cardinals cheated fans of full appreciation of several extraordinary moments, buried in the rubble of the upsetting finish.
Faithful to the trite baseball adage that "every game can show you something you've never seen before," this one showed three things you may never see again.
We owe those special moments a quick review:
• Sixth inning, bases loaded with Cardinals, none out: Charlie Morton's 1-2 pitch sails way behind David Freese -- and catcher Russell Martin blindly sticks his arm out and gloves the pitch, saving a run.
On the bench, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle goes, "Are you kidding me?"
Pitching coach Ray Searage: "That's one thing our catchers are really good at, catching pitches behind the batter."
Martin: "You only lose sight of the ball for an instant; you reach out for it and hope it's there."
• Eighth inning, Pirates holding on to a 3-2 lead, Cardinals on first and third with two outs: Left-handed pinch-hitter Matt Adams demolishes Bryan Morris' 1-2 pitch into short right -- but right at second baseman Neil Walker, who had shifted over from his regular post just prior to that very pitch.
Said third-base coach Nick Leyva, who is responsible for positioning infielders based on the intricate hitting charts provided by club analysts Dan Fox and Mike Fitzgerald: "We always have a starting point, but adjust based on what we see from the batter. If you watched Adams, he was dead-set on pulling the ball. The credit goes to Neil; he watched how he was swinging and moved when he felt the time was right."
• Eleventh inning of a 3-3 tie, Cardinals at the corners, one out: St. Louis reliever Seth Maness is at the plate, facing Jeanmar Gomez and a five-man infield. Maness hits a grounder to short, and Clint Barmes flips to right fielder Josh Harrison, who is standing right atop second and relays to first for the basic 6-9-3 inning-ending double play.
Hurdle: "That's the first time we used [the five-man infield]. Drew it up in the dirt and threw it out there. Backyard ball."
Hurdle's young daughter takes loss hard
ST. LOUIS -- Take the 14-inning, 4-3 loss in the wee moments of Wednesday morning hard? Wish you could have unloaded your angst on Pirates manager Clint Hurdle?
Relax. It was all taken care of by Maddie Hurdle.
The manager's 11-year-old daughter apparently gave her father a piece of her mind in the morning and, as one reporter lightheartedly interpreted the circumstances, had to "be talked off the ledge" by Dad.
"Maddie is a very passionate Buccos fan," Hurdle said, smiling at the memory of their conversation. "I told her Pirate ships don't have rearview mirrors, so we're sailing forward.
"If I can go Dr. Seuss on her, it helps. I spun it into, 'Don't be sad it happened, be glad that it's over.' I also reminded her that Pirates love tomorrow."
The Bucs dropped the series opener in extra innings after a dropped fly ball by left fielder Starling Marte contributed to the Cardinals' tying run in the ninth inning and prolonged the game.
• Gerrit Cole's turn was skipped in this series against the Cardinals -- he will start the opener of the Bucs' home series against Arizona on Friday -- but not because the club has reached the point of actively wanting to limit the rookie right-hander's innings. Between Triple-A Indianapolis (68) and the parent club (66), Cole has logged 134 innings compared to 132 last season, his first as a pro.
The club opted to start their three veteran pitchers -- Charlie Morton, Francisco Liriano and A.J. Burnett -- in St. Louis.
If an eventual decision is reached to curtail his workload, Cole may be used out of the bullpen according to Hurdle, who added, "That's possible, later. Right now we're just monitoring his innings. There haven't been any lengthy conversations about it."
• Liriano, Wednesday night's starter against the Cardinals, went to work with an 0-3 record in three starts against the Reds -- and 6-0 with a 1.08 ERA against the other NL Central clubs.
First number, last word
99: Career homers by Andrew McCutchen, entering Wednesday's game, putting him on he threshold of becoming the 21st player in the Pirates' 127-year history to hit the century mark.
"If I ever open a restaurant, I'll call it Plan B. If you ever want to go to a restaurant and it's packed, you say, 'OK, let's go to Plan B.' Yeah, it's right down the street." -- Hurdle, going allegoric on how baseball managers always have to have an alternate plan in the back of their minds.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.