The Pittsburgh Pirates and Detroit Tigers had to wait a day to begin their 2018 seasons. Their Opening Day matchup was rained out Thursday and pushed back to Friday afternoon at Comerica Park, and they played a wild back-and-forth game (PIT 13, DET 10).
Friday's game included, among other things, the Tigers failing to score a run despite having the bases loaded with no outs in both the first and fifth innings, and Pirates closer Felipe Rivero blowing a four-run ninth inning lead. Rivero walked three of the six batters he faced and threw only 13 strikes among his 30 pitches. Dixon Machado's two-run double tied the game.
Then, in the bottom of the 10th, Detroit managed to put the winning run at second base when Nicholas Castellanos reached on a fielder's choice and advanced on a wild pitch. The game was all set up for JaCoby Jones to be the hero, and for a short time, he was! Jones singled to left and Castellanos chugged around to score the walk-off run. He slide in ahead of the tag at the plate and won the game.
But wait! This is the instant replay era, and of course the game-ending bang-bang play at the plate was reviewed. The Tigers celebrated the Opening Day walk-off win and the Pirates, after seeing the play on the scoreboard, retreated to the clubhouse. A few minutes later, the umpire crew removed the headsets and announced the call had been overturned. Castellanos was ruled out. For real.
Here's video of the entire play and review:
How ridiculous. Not the concept of instant replay, the whole "celebrating a walk-off and having it negated" thing. The entire point of replay is to get the call right, and that's a good thing. Replay can really stink sometimes -- for example: this game -- but overall, it's good for the game. Got to get calls right.
Anyway, I don't know about you, but I didn't see a replay angle that showed conclusive evidence catcher Francisco Cervelli slapped the tag on Castellanos before he touched the plate. It was bang-bang. The replay crew at MLB's headquarters in New York may have additional replay angles however, so I guess they saw something. Either way, the call was overturned and the game continued. The official word:
New Tigers skipper Ron Gardenhire of course got his money's worth after the play was overturned. While the Tigers returned to the field and the Pirates returned to the dugout, Gardenhire gave the umpires the business and kicked dirt all over the place. He was ejected in his very first game as Tigers manager. I reckon it will not be his last ejection as Tigers manager.
Because baseball can be a real jerk, the game continued into the 11th inning ... then the 12th and 13th as well. It wasn't until there were two outs in the 13th inning that another run was scored. Three runs were scored, in fact, when Gregory Polanco ambushed a 3-0 fastball for a three-run home run. Unlike the ninth inning, the Pirates were able to protect this lead for the win, though the Tigers did bring the tying run to the plate.
Here is what this crazy back-and-forth game looks like in terms of win probability. In a nutshell, this graph shows each team's chances of winning the game at any give point based on the score, the outs, the baserunners, etc.
At one point in the seventh inning, the Tigers had an 89.9 percent chance to win the game. Then, at one point in the ninth inning, the Pirates had a 99.2 percent chance to win the game. That was before Detroit's comeback and Machado's double. The game wound up going 13 innings. The two teams combined for 23 runs on 31 hits and 13 walks. Opening Day in Detroit was ... eventful.