In a case of what comes first the chicken or the egg, both Pittsburgh Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle and his starter Jonathan Sanchez were ejected from the game prior to the conclusion of the first inning.
Both men were ejected for Sanchez hitting St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Allen Craig as part of a 9-1 loss.
Lance Lynn started for the Cardinals and kept the Pirates off the scoreboard in the first inning. Sanchez then came on and his first batter was fellow lefty Matt Carpenter. The second baseman worked the count full before taking a pitch deep to right center field for his third home run of the season.
Not to be outdone, the next batter switch hitter Carlos Beltran then hit one out to deep left field on a 2-2 field and that went into the seats for his fifth homer.
After a Matt Holiday single, Craig came up and on the first pitch of the at-bat he was hit on the upper part of his body. Home plate umpire Tim Timmons immediately tossed Sanchez meaning he failed to register an out in the game. Outraged, Hurdle came out to argue stating Sanchez was struggling however it was clear that he swore based on the Root Sports broadcast and he was ejected as well. Sanchez was replaced by Jeanmar Gomez while Bench Coach Jeff Banister took Hurdle’s place.
In the top of the third inning, the Pirates received a scare when a Lynn pitch hit Starling Marte in the hand. He was inspected for a couple of minutes by Assistant Athletic Trainer Ben Potenziano. He would stay in the game.
Craig came back to haunt the Pirates again in the bottom of the same inning when his single scored Holliday.
Lynn continued to dominate in the fifth inning however he hit Marte for a second straight at-bat. Still, despite Banister and the Pirates bench begging for a toss out to justify ejecting Sanchez, nothing was done to eliminate Lynn from the game. Instead, Timmons saw Hitting Coach Jay Bell say a few words, and his night was done. At that point, Third Base Coach Nick Leyva went over to have a few words and the game continued.
In the bottom of the fifth, Beltran hit a two run home run, his second bomb of the game scoring Carpenter as well making it 5-0. Although Gomez struck out Craig his night was over. Banister opted for a double switch which also took out a struggling and less than pleased Andrew McCutchen. Jose Tabata entered the game, as did Jared Hughes.
The Pirates scored their first run in the sixth inning when Pedro Alvarez hit his second deep fly to left field but again it was caught. This one went to the warning track and plated Garrett Jones.
With Lynn out of the game in the eighth inning, Mitchell Boggs struggled loading the bases with one out. Manager Mike Matheny made the change and trusted lefty Randy Choate to pitch to Alvarez. Working a 3-2 count, Alvarez ultimately grounded into a double play meaning the Pirates put up another zero.
The Cardinals added four insurance runs in the ninth. Vin Mazzaro came to pitch and allowed an opening double to Jon Jay. The next batter Pete Kozma hit a ground ball that defensive replacement Brandon Inge could not field allowing Jay to cross home plate. Later on in the inning Holiday’s RBI single scored Kozma. Craig then hit a ball a diving Snider could not reach and Holiday and Ty Wigginton both scored before Craig was tagged out at second base.
Joe Kelly pitched the final inning for the Cardinals and allowed two base runners, before settling down to make sure the Pirates did not score in the inning.
The second game of the series will begin at 4:15 ET and A.J. Burnett (1-2 2.79) will face Jake Westbrook (1-1 1.25).
Of Note: Neil Walker needed six stitches in his hand after trying to break up the eighth inning double play. He will be out for ‘a few days’.