This was a weird game, with all sorts of unusual happenings. I'm not sure I can even remember them all. I will attempt a somewhat chronological account of these events:
- Soriano held at third when he should have scored on a sacrifice fly in the 1st inning.
- The Cubs defense was terrible. Ramirez misplayed a double play ball, allowing the Pirates to score first in the 2nd inning. Routine pop-ups to shallow center were automatically an adventure, with one being dropped. More on that later.
- The umpiring was terrible, which was not surprising with Tony Randazzo behind the plate. You may remember him as the person who ruined the Pirates 2005 season. Sort of. Anyway, his strike zone was inconsistent all night. There was no better example than the top of the 9th inning. With one out, Nate McLouth walked on a very close 3-2 pitch that missed low.This was a pitch that could have gone either way. Ryan Doumit followed and took a 1-0 pitch for a strike. This pitch was identical to the one that McLouth walked on, except it was about 3-6 inches lower. Ridiculous. Randazzo also blew the call at the plate when Soriano scored the Cubs' first run. This one was a tough call, one that required a slow-motion replay before one could be sure. I will let it slide. But the call on Castillo at first base in the 12th was horrible. It should not have mattered, as Bautista should not have been tagged in the first place. But it still cost us what could have been the winning run. There were also some bad calls that went the Pirates' way, but I did not log them into my memory because I am a biased fan. (EDIT: I forgot that there was also the play at second that got Jim Tracy tossed. Another blown call.)
- Jack Wilson made one very fine play, nearly made two or three spectacular plays, and misplayed a couple routine grounders. It was a weird game for him defensively, as well as at the plate. He finished 0 for 6, but drove in the tying run in the 9th and the winning run in the 15th with sacrifice flies.
- More strange plays in that 15th inning. On Jose Bautista's bunt attempt, Lee hit Paulino in the head with his throw to second. When Paulino broke for third, Barrett's throw was deflected by Aramis Ramirez, who was charging for the bunt. This had to remind you of the Manny Ramirez cutoff play from a few years ago. It is amazing that the Pirates only scored four times in 15 innings with the way the Cubs' defense played.
It is always fun to win a marathon game like this. We can give this entire win to the bullpen (Fangraphs.com actually credits the bullpen with 135% of the win). The relievers were absolutely fantastic. But the Pirates' offensive woes continued. Ryan Doumit has stepped up. Some other guys need to as well. I enjoyed this quote from Freddy Sanchez:
That is the attitude that every player needs to take to the plate.
We're going to have to battle, and I think it all starts with me. I put a lot of responsibility on myself. I'm not getting on base enough. I'm not doing the things that I know I'm capable of doing.