6/19/2014 8:15 P.M. ET
Snider strikes out former MVP in unique experience
By Tom Singer / MLB.com
PITTSBURGH -- Travis Snider couldn't help it. The Pirates had just dropped a rain-prolonged 11-4 game to the Reds, but as Wednesday morphed into Thursday, he was the only one wearing a grin in their PNC Park clubhouse.
For the first time in a decade, since he had been a high school freshman, the outfielder had pitched.
"It's not something you strive for," said Snider, alluding to a blowout compounded by a rain delay, "but when the opportunity presents itself, I think all of us -- pitchers and hitters alike -- like to see what it's like on the other side of the ball. It's fun. But it was a tough day for the ERA."
Pitching the ninth inning, Snider allowed the Reds' final two runs. So he retired for the evening, and perhaps for his pitching career, with an ERA of 18.00. Snider allowed only one hit, a double to Billy Hamilton, but he walked two.
One of the walks was to J.J. Hoover, in one of those fantastical confrontations. It was the Cincinnati reliever's first big-league at-bat, but in the Minor Leagues, he had been 0-for-17 with 14 strikeouts.
And Snider walked him, then ended the inning with a strikeout of former National League Most Valuable Player Joey Votto.
"A lot of good pitchers haven't struck out Votto," noted Pirates manager Clint Hurdle. "Snider will probably hang onto that ball for a little while."
"I was able to throw some strikes when it mattered. I'll remember that last one forever," said Snider, holding the ball with which he had gotten Votto to swing over a changeup. Snider's pitches ranged from a 76-mph changeup to an 86-mph fastball. "I don't think Joey would want to sign it for me, but that would be kinda cool.
"I felt the changeup was working pretty well. I was having a tough time locating the fastball, but I thought I changed speeds well. I saw 85-86 [mph], and that was pretty surprising for how terrible my mechanics were."
As he spoke, Snider wore a pitcher's badge of honor: an ice pack around his left arm.
Across the room, Edinson Volquez had a laugh at Snider's expense.
"He is going to be so sore tomorrow. His whole side will be sore," Volquez said with a smile.
Pirates get explanation on play at plate
PITTSBURGH -- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle will avoid the usual disciplinary action for his ejection from Wednesday's game after Major League Baseball conceded that the call that had led to his ouster was in error.
Hurdle had been run after leaving the dugout to seek details about why, upon replay review, catcher Russell Martin had been ruled to have illegally obstructed home plate, a violation of experimental Rule 7.13.
The questioned sequence had come with the bases loaded and one out, making it a force play. Martin had taken a throw from Pittsburgh reliever Stolmy Pimentel, who had fielded a grounder with Devin Mesoraco running from third base.
Umpiring crew chief Jerry Layne was informed from the New York Replay Review Command Center of Martin's violation. Hurdle and Martin both maintained the catcher had carried out the play the only possible way.
In a statement, MLB's executive vice president of baseball operations, Joe Torre, agreed.
"[Wednesday] night's play at home plate was one of the most difficult calls that our umpires have faced this season, given that the positioning of the catcher at home plate was necessary to record the force out," Torre said. "After evaluating the play and the details of the review, we recognize that this play was not the type that should have resulted in a violation of Rule 7.13.
"The goal of Rule 7.13 is to prevent egregious home plate collisions, and despite how challenging these situations can be, we have made important progress in accomplishing that goal."
"It's nice for them to reaffirm what I believed was a missed call," Martin said following the Pirates' 4-3, 12-inning win over the Reds on Thursday. "It's the first year of replays, and there will be times guys make mistakes, and hopefully they just won't repeat those mistakes. I think everybody in baseball understood there's nothing else you can do in that situation. It's pretty much impossible to be blocking the plate when it's a force play."
Hurdle, who had reached Torre by phone Wednesday night following his ejection, anticipated the admission that a mistake had been made.
"Based on our conversation ... we were confident there would be some statement coming out, bring more clarity to situation," Hurdle said.
The Pirates lost that Wednesday game, 11-4, so the controversial play had no significant bearing on the outcome.
First number, last word
.393: Composite average of Gregory Polanco, Starling Marte and Andrew McCutchen in the six games they have formed the top third of the Bucs' lineup, through Wednesday.
"I've thought about it here. We've got two guys who could do it, but the situation never presented itself where I felt it would've been in the best interest of the team. I played on two teams where it was done often. Sometimes, it was an upgrade defensively." -- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, on whether he'd consider briefly positioning a pitcher in the outfield in order to juggle two relievers by matchup, as Houston manager Bo Porter recently did.
• The Pirates surpassed the million mark in attendance on Thursday in the 39th home date of the season. In 2013, when they wound up with the second-highest season attendance in club history (2,256,862), the Bucs crossed the million threshold in their 42nd date.
• Pittsburgh had won 15 consecutive games when scoring four or more runs, until dropping the first two games of the Reds series by scores of 6-5 and 11-4.
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.