PITTSBURGH -- A double to the gap would've been entirely too logical or linear, the same for another poor pitching performance, especially since the Pirates earlier Sunday plucked a guy from independent ball (Henderson Alvarez) because they're so rail-thin at the position.
But this is 2020, where normalcy and expected outcomes have gone to die, and that was readily apparent in the eighth inning of the Pirates' 2-1 loss to the Tigers on Sunday at PNC Park. This was, to put it mildly, a different way to go.
Figure that Richard Rodriguez came into the game with the best ERA (2.39) of any National League pitcher (minimum: 50 games) since June 1, 2019. During a 27-appearance stretch last season, Rodriguez allowed just one earned run and no extra-base hits. As much as anyone wearing a Pirates uniform these days, he's mostly been a sure thing.
So with the Pirates and Tigers tied at 1, of course Rodriguez got two outs before plunking second baseman Jonathan Schoop to give Detroit some life. Rodriguez then put a runner in scoring position by inexplicably throwing a pitch in the direction of the Pirates dugout.
After a short check to ensure Rodriguez was not hurt, the right-hander coughed up a single to designated hitter Miguel Cabrera, the ball finding a hole near where shortstop Kevin Newman would've been playing in a non-shift situation.
Schoop wouldn't have scored had it not been for the wild pitch, which appeared to be caused by Rodriguez's cleat catching some dirt.
"It's a freak play," manager Derek Shelton said. "It's unfortunate that it happened at that time, especially as well as Richie has thrown the ball. He hit Schoop with a backup slider, then caught his spike. It's just unfortunate that it happened at that time."
The Pirates weren't able to get much going against Tigers starter Spencer Turnbull, who in his last time out earned his first win in a 19-start stretch.
Turnbull gave Detroit seven innings of one-run ball, allowing five hits, walking two and striking out four. The Pirates finished the game with just one extra-base hit, a double from Kevin Newman in the fifth inning, while Turnbull got 11 outs on the ground.
"For our left-handers, he ran the ball away from them and got us on the pull side on the ground," Shelton said. "When you get a guy that has the action that he does he does away from you and you do that, then you're going to get a lot of ground-ball outs. That's what he did. He kept us off-balance and kept us on the ground. We had a couple opportunities to score and just didn't get the big hit."