CINCINNATI — Amid the downpour, the Pirates and Cincinnati Reds thundered on.
The teams hit 10 combined home runs, trading leads as the balls continued to leave the yard, but played to a stalemate. After six innings and a 1-hour, 38-minute rain delay, the game was suspended with the Pirates and Reds tied, 7-7. The game will resume at 5:30 p.m. today at Great American Ball Park before the regularly scheduled game at 7:10 p.m.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle did not reveal who would “start” the resumed game. He could use a long reliever or play the matchups with his bullpen for the final three innings.
Though fans had to sit in the rain and wait out a delay, they took in an interesting game. Several of the home runs were not cheap. Travis Snider homered to the opposite field one inning after taking a fly ball off the face. A review of that play not only ruled that the ball off his face was a fair ball but also awarded the batter an extra base. The grounds crew scurried about during warm-ups between innings, performing frantic surgery on the infield dirt in an effort to preserve the playing surface.
The Pirates hit back-to-back home runs three times, all by the first two batters of the inning. Neil Walker and Gaby Sanchez hit consecutive homers in the second and sixth innings, and Starling Marte and Snider went one after the other in the fifth.
The Pirates hit three sets of consecutive homers for the first time in club history, according to STATS Inc., and the third time ever. Monday marked only the second time the same two Pirates batters hit two sets of consecutive homers, also per STATS Inc. Toby Atwell and Jerry Lynch did it in 1954.
“I certainly wouldn’t think that I would find my way attached to a home run record,” Walker said. “The game’s not even over yet so I don’t even know how to express what’s going on. It’s pretty cool.”
Todd Frazier, Ryan Ludwick, Joey Votto and Devin Mesoraco homered for the Reds.
Sanchez’s second home run gave the Pirates a brief lead until Mesoraco homered with two outs in the sixth inning off Bryan Morris, tying the score, 7-7.
The 10 combined home runs set a Great American Ball Park record and were the most in a major league game since June 18, 2006, when the Detroit Tigers hit eight home runs and the Chicago Cubs three at Wrigley Field for a total of 11.
Wandy Rodriguez and Homer Bailey, the two starters, combined to allow seven of the home runs. Rodriguez gave up six runs on six hits in five innings.
The Pirates had an early lead, Frazier handed Bailey the advantage shortly thereafter. After a one-out walk to Votto and Brandon Phillips’ strikeout, Rodriguez had an 0-2 count on Frazier. He threw a third consecutive fastball and left it over the middle of the plate, and Frazier stroked it 438 feet away off the batter’s eye in dead center field.
The Pirates took advantage of Bailey’s mistakes in the top of the second. Walker destroyed a full-count fastball on the inner half of the plate for his third home run, a 442-foot blast to right-center field. Sanchez followed by knocking his first home run of the season off the batter’s eye and the Pirates took a 3-2 lead.
A manager’s challenge that resulted in a reversal helped the Reds regain the lead in the fourth. Snider slid to make a catch near the right-field foul line on a high pop fly, but misjudged the ball, which missed his glove and hit him in the chin. Head athletic trainer Todd Tomczyk examined Snider, but Snider stayed in the game.
“He was good to go,” Hurdle said. “He wasn’t dizzy. There was really nothing to stay out there any longer than we did about.”
The ball hit Snider as he slid across the foul line, though, so Reds manager Bryan Price challenged the ruling on the field of a foul ball. The umpires in the replay command center in New York City overturned the call, ruling that the ball was fair, and put Frazier on second base with a double.
Ludwick homered two batters later, giving the Reds a 4-3 lead.
It didn’t last long. The Pirates once again went back-to-back to start an inning in the fifth. Marte hit his first home run of the year and Snider poked an opposite-field homer down the left-field line.
“We squared up some balls, took some good swings, healthy swings, aggressive swings,” Hurdle said.
Pinch-hitter Neftali Soto doubled with one out in the fifth, his first major league hit, and Votto crushed a line-drive homer, his third, to right field for a 6-5 lead.
The intensity of the rain increased before the bottom of the fifth and the grounds crew came out to landscape as the Pirates warmed up.
“It wasn’t good,” Walker said of the infield dirt. “I think our goal was to, one way or the other, try to get through five innings and try to make the game official. I’m sure the umpires were hoping that one side or the other would be ahead or behind by a certain amount, but it wouldn’t be a Pittsburgh-Cincinnati game without some drama.”
And if Monday night wasn’t weird enough, it’s supposed to snow today.
Bill Brink: email@example.com and on Twitter @BrinkPG. First Published April 14, 2014 11:13 PM