"Looks like we're going to extra innings." That's what Greg Brown, the Pirates' TV broadcaster, said as soon as Russell Martin made contact on this fly ball to shallow right-center. But Brown should have known better. Because it ain't over till the Astros have finished tying all of their shoelaces together.
The gif you see here shows rightfielder Jimmy Paredes and second baseman Jake Elmore colliding, which allowed the ball to drop and the winning run to score. Elmore said the crowd was too loud (at PNC Park!) and that he couldn't hear whether Paredes had called him off. As we've seen so many times since the start of last season, this is what the Astros do. But let's back up a bit, just to set the scene fully for tonight, since comedy is always best understood in context.
Houston led this game 4-1 in the fifth. Chris Carter, who would later be replaced by Paredes, dropped a routine fly ball in the sixth that resulted in a three-base error and led to a run. Pittsburgh then tied it in the eighth when Pedro Alvarez's 462-foot homer landed in the Allegheny River on one bounce. In the ninth, the Bucs had Travis Snider on third and Andrew McCutchen on first with one out. For some reason, Pittsburgh chose not to have McCutchen try to steal second. When Brandon Inge bounced meekly back to pitcher Edgar Gonzalez, Snider wisely didn't break for home. But when Gonzalez turned toward second to start the double play, he dropped the ball. Everybody safe. Bases loaded. Still one out.
Gonzalez got Neil Walker looking for the second out. Up came Martin. He worked the count full before popping that ball into the Pittsburgh sky somewhere between Elmore and Paredes. It would land like an anvil falling on Wile E. Coyote. The Astros are now 20 games under .500.