The Pirates and Cardinals had already split a pair of one-run games Friday and Saturday, but they were just setting the table for Sunday’s marathon, a 19-inning affair won by Pittsburgh 6-3.
Pedro Alvarez hit a go-ahead homer off Barret Browning in the top of the 19th to break the tie, and Andrew McCutchen later added a two-run single that seemed to settle the matter once and for all.
The Pirates also took the lead in the 17th, when Garrett Jones collected an infield single with the bases loaded, but the Cardinals were able to come back and re-tie the game on a Tony Cruz sac fly.
Wandy Rodriguez, who was expected to start Monday, pitched scoreless 18th and 19th innings for the victory. He had been 0-3 in four starts since being acquired by the Pirates. It was his first relief appearance since 2006.
The game was the longest played so far in 2012. 2011 featured a pair of 19-inning games, including one in which the Pirates lost to the Braves. It was the Cardinals’ longest game since they lost to the Mets 2-1 in 20 innings on April 17, 2010.
The Pirates improved to 67-54 with the victory, pushing them two games ahead of the Cardinals in the NL Central. They’re one game ahead of the Giants for the second wild card.
The Braves have signed former football player and current outfielder Sanders Commings, an Augusta, Georgia native, to a minor league contract, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports.
Commings, 26, was a defensive back who played for the University of Georgia before being selected by the Chiefs in the fifth round of the 2013 draft. He appeared in two games in the 2013 season.
Commings also played baseball for Westside High School and was selected by the Diamondbacks in the 37th round of the 2008 draft. He chose to attend the University of Georgia instead. When football didn’t pan out, Commings started training with Jerry Hairston, Jr. Hairston said he was “blown away” when he saw Commings hit for the first time.
Obviously, Commings’ path to success as a professional baseball player will be long, but it’s a no-risk flier for the Braves. The club has past experience with football players, including Deion Sanders and Brian Jordan.
The next task for the Braves will be to acquire Ryan Goins from the Blue Jays. That way, players will look at the lineup card each day to see if it’s Commings or Goins.
On Thursday afternoon, Rays pitcher Chris Archer asked his Twitter followers, “Lots swirling around what needs to be changed about the game of baseball. What do y’all want to see changed, if anything, & why?”
Tigers ace Justin Verlander responded:
To that, Archer said:
For what it’s worth, Verlander hasn’t been much of a hitter. In 47 career plate appearances, he has three singles and no extra-base hits. And if the AL did get rid of the DH rule, the Tigers would have nowhere to put Victor Martinez. Verlander, though, would have an easier time pitching to opposing pitchers rather than their DH’s.