|Alvarez's big blow was the difference in the marathon. (AP)|
We normally only leadoff The Lineup with 3 Up, 3 Down, but the Cardinals-Pirates game that lasted a whopping 19 innings provided so much action, let's do it here -- and we'll still do it later in The Lineup for every other game that was played Sunday. So this is a bonus. For free. Everyone loves free stuff, after all.
Pedro Alvarez/Pirates in 19: Slugging a go-ahead home run in the top of the 19th easily gets Alvarez top billing here, but the fact that this win came in the 19th inning is intriguing for these Pirates.
Remember, the Pirates lost a 19-inning game in Atlanta last season. They entered the game 53-47. Including that loss, the Pirates went 19-43 the rest of the way. We don't know how this season will turn out, but if they make a playoff run, this game has to be considered a major turning point, especially since it meant they took two of three against a playoff contender after entering the series in a bit of a funk. Do not discount the boost in morale a team that hasn't tasted success gains from something like this.
Jaime Garcia's pitching performance: Garcia had been out with an injury since June 5, so this start had to be very encouraging for the Cardinals. He only gave up five hits and two runs (zero earned) in eight innings while striking out 10 hitters against zero walks. That's a beauty of an outing.
Pirates' pitchers, except for Juan Cruz: Jeff Karstens provided a good start, only allowing two hits and two runs in seven innings. From there, the bullpen took over. If you take Juan Cruz's blown-save inning out of the mix, the Pirates' relievers Sunday threw 11 scoreless innings against the best offense in the National League.
Bonus Up! Hey, the game provided us with plenty of bonus baseball, so here's an extra "up:" The Wandy Rodriguez vs. Adam Wainwright matchup in the bottom of the 18th. What made it so cool? Well, Rodriguez was slated to start Monday. Instead, the Pirates decided to use him in order to win this game. Wainwright then entered as a pinch-hitter with Carlos Beltran on second. And he drew a walk. Skip Schumaker followed with a strikeout to end the inning. Call this a microcosm for the weirdness that was the entire game.
Jaime Garcia's defense: The two runs Garcia allowed were technically unearned, but they came in due to an error by Garcia himself. If he fields a bunt cleanly in the sixth, the Cardinals likely win this thing in nine innings.
Bunting a man to third base: In the top of the 16th inning, Garrett Jones led off with a double. And Pirates manager Clint Hurdle elected to bunt. It backfired, as Jones was thrown out at third, basically eliminating the threat. Second base is already scoring position, so throwing away a precious out is even worse than when bunting a guy from first to second.
David Freese: Rough day for Freese's rate stats (batting average, on-base percentage, etc.). He went 0-for-8. He also struck out three times and left four men on base.