PITTSBURGH, Pa. — With runners on the corners and two outs in the bottom of the 10th inning, outfielder Alex Presley stepped to the plate. After Pittsburgh tied the game up at 1 in the 6th inning, both the Pirates and the Phillies battled each inning in order to break up the tie breaker. Presley hit a broken bat infield single to the Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins. The ball rolled right to the perfect spot giving the speedy Presley time to touch first base in time to be safe to plate Michael McKenry from third for the walkoff win.
“Whenever Presley hit’s the ball in the infield, he’s always got a chance,” McKenry said. “He’s a guy that can run down the line. He put the ball in play and gave us a chance to score a run. And that’s the ballgame.”
“I thought I had a good chance,” Presley said. “It was a good thing I broke the bat. I hit it just bad enough where I didn’t get out there. I knew it was in the hole, so I was running. I run hard every time. I had a shot on that one.”
Presley said he knew he was safe as soon as he touched the bag.
“It probably didn’t look like it because I kind of just jogged past the bag,” he said. “It was close. I could feel it. You can feel the ball coming. And I just got in there.”
“I knew it wasn’t hit well,” Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle said. “He was kind of moving with the swing. It was a changeup, so it had him out front moving down the line as the barrel was moving through the zone. Once I saw Rollins have to go to his backhand I thought we had a shot. If didn’t flat get it out of the box. We don’t win. And that’s what he did.”
Rod Barajas leadoff the bottom of the 10th inning by crushing a pitch from reliever Joe Blanton just inches shy of a home run. The ball hit off the top of the wall of the Phillies bullpen. McKenry, who pinch-ran for Barajas, advanced to third on the sac bunt by Clint Barmes to set up Presley for the broken bat infield walkoff single. The Pirates beat the Philadelphia Phillies 2-1 in extra innings at PNC Park on Saturday night, 2-1, in front of 38,885.
Karstens allowed one run on five hits over 6.0 innings. He walked one and struck out two while throwing 85 pitches, 54 for strikes in his first start of the 2012 season.
“They stretched him out a little bit in the first,” Hurdle said. “Just got in a much better rhythm. Location tightened up a bit.…Played the back and forth game much better than he had earlier. He gave us what we needed though. He likes pitching. He likes starting. And he showed another reason why he’s in that rotation right now. He was able to just stay calm and collected throughout.”
Karstens gave up three hits and a run in the first inning, none of the balls were squared up hard, but found holes. Shane Victorino and Placido Polaco lead off the game with back-to-back singles off Karstens. Jimmy Rollins followed by laying down a sac bunt to push the runners to second and third base. With one out, Hunter Pence hit a RBI infield single up the middle to plate the first run of the game.
“It wasn’t as efficient as I like to be. It was just one of those days where you have to battle,” Karstens said. “I was working behind a lot in the game. In some situations where I was able to kind of get out of some sticky situations, not making quality pitches. They were able to help me out a little bit. It’s just one of those things where you got to be on top of your game. Your whole point in being in a game against Cliff Lee is trying to stay close and giving your team a chance to win.”
After tossing two scoreless frames, Karstens was able to escape a jam in the fourth. With one out, Laynce Nix drew the first walk issued by Karstens in the game. Carlos Ruiz connected for a hit into right field to put runners on the corners with two outs. But rookie Freddy Glavis flew out to left to end the inning.
Karstens gave up just one hit over his final two frames. The 29-year-old followed another solid pitching performance from lefty Erik Bedard the night before, who also allowed just one run in his first outing of the season.
“We believe we can pitch,” Hurdle said. “When we do well out there, we aren’t surprised. Our guys aren’t surprised when they perform well…We’re going to rely on our starting pitching like every other club in baseball. Overtime, we’ll see where it takes us. But the starters understand the importance of what they do every fifth day, taking that ball out there and getting up deep into the game. We’ve gotten out of the box real well with it with [Erik] Bedard and Jeff.”
After collecting just one hit off Cliff Lee over the first five innings, the Pirates were able to get a run to score going in the 6th frame. With one out, Yamaico Navarro drew a pinch-hit walk in his first at-bat as a Bucco, and advanced to third base on a fielders choice groundout by Alex Presley. During Andrew McCutchen’s at bat, Lee threw a wild pitch to score Navarro –the first run scored by the Pirates in 2012, which also tied the game at 1.
“You’ve got to beat one’s, you’ve got to beat two’s,” Hurdle said of the Phillies Roy Halladay and Lee. “You’ve got to win when all parts aren’t clicking. We’ve seen a guy that would be a No. 1 on most teams, but he’s No. 2 over there. And we haven’t had a lot of base runners. It’s a very, very good win for us. Our guys believe that we can win. So we’re not surprised that we won…In front of a home crowd, a Saturday night crowd like this, you play gutsy baseball, you play very, very good pitching. All our pitchers stepped up. They did a very good job. It’s exciting ball.”
With the 2-1 walkoff win, the Pirates improve to 1-1 on the season.
“You get that first win out of the way, and kind of get those jitterbugs out of the way,” Karstens said. “Our guys can start to play loose now, kind of take it for what it is and just have fun the rest of the season.”
- Relief — Tony Watson: IP; Jason Grilli: IP, K; Joel Hanrahan: IP, 2BB, 2K; Juan Cruz: IP, 2H, K
- Infielder Matt Hague made his Major League debut and went 0-for-3 with two groundouts to short and a line out to second base.
- Neil Walker, who was bumped down to the sixth spot in the lineup drew a walk off Cliff Lee in the 2nd inning. It marked the first walk from a Bucco this season.
- With two outs in the 8th inning, Josh Harrison lined a double into left field off reliever Chad Qualls for the first extra-base hit of the season for the club.
- With one out in the bottom of the ninth inning, Andrew McCutchen singled into center field, and quickly swiped second base for his first hit and stolen bag of the season.
- There were 38,885 on hand tonight –the first time in team-history that the Pirates have sold out the first two games of the season. Also Thursday (39,585).