Pirates outlast Cubs, win 4-3 in 16 innings

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Fortunately, rain is expected to wash over PNC Park on Thursday. Neither the Cubs nor Pirates are going to want to play an afternoon game after this.

The Pirates topped the Cubs 4-3 in 16 innings Wednesday night when the final player on their bench, backup catcher Tony Sanchez, delivered a pinch-hit single off Carlos Villanueva that scored Jose Tabata. It concluded a 5 hour, 55 minute game that ended just before 1 a.m. The two teams are currently scheduled to play again at 12:35 p.m., unless there’s a rainout.

Some highlights:

– Emilio Bonifacio followed up his four-hit opener on Monday with four more hits in regulation and then a fifth hit in the 15th inning tonight. He became the first player since Dante Bichette in 1998 and just the fifth player in 100 years to have back-to-back four-hit games to start a team’s season and then the first known player to end the second game with nine hits. Bonfacio also made things interesting on the basepaths again, stealing two bases but also getting picked off first for the second straight game.

– Going along with the theme of the first three days, both closers blew saves, with Jason Grilli doing so in the ninth and Jose Veras returning the favor after an Anthony Rizzo solo homer gave the Cubs a 3-2 lead in the 12th.

– Villanueva, the Cubs’ fifth starter, fell to 0-2 before even getting a chance to make a start. He gave up the 10th-inning run in the Pirates’ 1-0 win Monday and then allowed a run in his second inning of work tonight.

– In the 13th, Clint Barmes managed to ground into a exceedingly rare 7-2-3 double play. The Cubs went to a five-man infield with the bases loaded and none out, bringing Junior Lake in from left field to play near third base. Barmes hit a grounder right to Lake and he made a clean throw home, starting the double play.

For Lake, it was his first opportunity as an “infielder” in the majors, but something he’s very used to. While he’s been exclusively an outfielder since getting called up last year, he played 418 games at short and 93 at third in the minors. In fact, he made just six appearances ever in the outfield before being called up.

– The Cubs lost despite outhitting the Pirates 15-8. They also had the game’s only two extra-base hits.

– The game featured three replays, all after the seventh inning, one of which resulted in an overturn.

According to Baseball-Reference’s Play Index, it was just the fourth 16-inning game to take place within the first two games of the season over the last 100 years. The last was in 2012, when the Blue Jays beat the Indians 7-4 in 16 innings on April 5. Prior to that, the Rays beat the Red Sox 9-8 in 16 innings on April 1, 2003 and the Royals beat the Twins 4-3 in 17 innings on April 9, 1969.

Mariners activate Kyle Seager

Kyle Seager
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The Mariners have activated third baseman Kyle Seager from the 60-day injured list, per a team announcement on Saturday. Dylan Moore has been optioned to Triple-A Tacoma to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Seager, while right-handed reliever Sam Tuivailala has been placed on the 60-day IL (ruptured Achilles tendon).

Seager, 31, suffered a partial tear in the extensor tendon of his left hand during spring training and has yet to make his season debut. He underwent surgery on the tendon in mid-March and has had a long and slow recovery since then, eventually working his way up to a few starts in Triple-A last week. Through his first nine games in the minors, he batted .256/.310/.308 with two extra bases, seven RBI, and a .617 OPS over 42 plate appearances.

Any progress is good progress, though, and the Mariners will no doubt be looking to Seager to uphold the .250+ average, 3.0+ fWAR totals of seasons past as he works his way back to a full workload — especially with fellow third baseman Ryon Healy headed to the 10-day IL with a bout of back inflammation. Seager will start at third and bat sixth when the club faces off against the Athletics at 4:07 PM EDT on Saturday.