4/3/2014 12:31 P.M. ET
Sixteen-inning tilt brings up memories for Sanchez
By Tom Singer / MLB.com
PITTSBURGH -- An unusual game like Wednesday-Thursday's 16-inning Pirates victory will trigger a lot of personal recollections about marathon contests from the clubhouse.
The early-morning hero, Tony Sanchez, sympathized with Russell Martin for having caught all 16 innings and 258 pitches thrown by the seven Pirates pitchers.
However, Sanchez reveled in having an even longer game on his resume: He caught all 25 innings of Boston College's 3-2 loss to Texas in an NCAA Regional Tournament game on May 30-31, 2009.
Coach Augie Garrido of Texas, a school with a rich baseball tradition, often called Sanchez's catching performance that day the best he had ever seen.
"The Texas coaches will still text me at times, talking about how they saw me block about 100 pitches in the dirt from the 20th through the 25th," said Sanchez, beaming.
Besides his own effort and the team win in the longest game in NCAA history, Sanchez has another reason for fondly looking back at that game: His single with two outs in the 19th ended 12 1/3 innings of no-hit ball by Texas reliever Austin Wood.
Hurdle's platoons won't be 'cookie-cutter'
PITTSBURGH -- Clint Hurdle has a tandem of players available for both first base and right field, and says neither position will be handled as "a cookie-cutter platoon."
By that, the Pirates manager means he will not be altering his lineups based on whether the opposing pitcher is right- or left-handed, but according to matchups.
Hurdle calls it "projectable analysis."
Gaby Sanchez and Jose Tabata call it "good," because left-handers on the Bucs' horizon are as rare.
The Pirates will not face a southpaw until Game 9 when, per the Cubs' current rotation, Travis Wood would start against them in the final game of next week's series in Chicago. If manager Rick Renteria adjusts his rotation and the Pirates miss Wood, they would not have another chance to come across a lefty until reaching Cincinnati in mid-month; Tony Cingrani is now in the Reds' rotation.
Because of the general dearth of left-handed starters in the NL Central, recent Pirates teams have seen few of them. In 2013, for instance, lefties started less than 20 percent of the games (31 of 162) against the Bucs.
Despite the quick turnaround from Wednesday-Thursday's 16-inning game, Pittsburgh's lineup for the matinee against the Cubs remained a Travis-ty: Travis Ishikawa was back at first base, Travis Snider in right field.
First number, last word
31: Consecutive shutout innings -- including the end of the preseason -- by Pirates pitchers until the Cubs pushed across a run -- as a result of an overturned call -- in the eighth inning in the Wednesday-night portion of the 16-inning marathon.
"He had a pinch-hit at-bat in extra innings last year where he didn't [take] a swing. We had a little talk and he said that would never happen again." -- Hurdle on Sanchez, who drove in the winning run in the 16th inning with a pinch-hit single on his first swing of the season.
• Bryan Morris was the only Pirates reliever who got to sit out the 16-inning game, not the first time the right-hander felt like a marathon accessory.
During his days as a starter. Morris recalled being chased after four innings in a Double-A Altoona game -- that wound up going 19 innings.
"But this was the longest game I watched in uniform without participating," Morris said of the 4-3 victory over the Cubs.
• Coupled with Monday's Opening Day win on Neil Walker's 10th-inning homer, the Bucs have opened a season with consecutive walk-off wins for the first time in the club's history.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.