Walking around outside PNC Park yesterday was incredible. The ticket lines were long, the black and gold fever was in the air.
And then shortly after the franchise and I took our seats, starter Jeff Karstens induced a slow hopper to shortstop Chase d’Arnaud. Too awesome. What a great start to the…
But the rookie tossed the ball to some fans a few sections to our right and Pennsylvania boy Chris Heisey was standing on second base, as Brody and I put our heads in our hands. It’s really bad when a seven year old says, “Dad what was he thinking?”
I wish I knew son, wish I knew.
Heisey moved over to third base on a sacrifice bunt by Edgar Renteria, then scored on a sacrifice fly by JoeyVotto. It was the one occassion on the day when Votto would smile as the 18-inning scoreless streak was over.
Jay Bruce walked to leadoff the second inning. He stole second on a very close call as Neil Walker applied a quick tag of a Michael McKenry rocket to the back of Bruces’ jersey. We didn’t see the replay, but let the umps have it anyway.
Bruce moved to third on a hard hit single by J Gomes. Miguel Cairo would make it 2-0 Reds with a sacrifice fly to Alex Presley who made a weak attempt to gun Bruce at the plate.
Pirates superstar Andrew McCutchen broke his 0-for-17 skid with a double that just missed leaving the yard in the fourth.
In the fifth inning, Johnny Cueto reached when d’Arnaud couldn’t handle his ground ball. (Yes, the questions from the little guy returned.) Pirates killer Chris Heisey followed with a single and Renteria repeated it with a knock to left which plated Cueto from second.
Walker ended his hitting streak and twice left runners on base while doing so.
But as we left PNC Park, I couldn’t help but smile. We are thrilled that the Pirates are playing well enough to have players like d’Arnaud finding out what the big leagues is really all about. We never would have guessed he would be doing it while the Bucs are in first place…ever.
First place was fun while it lasted, now it’s time for the Bucs to prove they belong atop the NL Central. If d’Arnaud isn’t a part of that, it will be ok.
The Pirates fans didn’t let the rookie know what they really felt. Most fans understand the guy is learning what it’s like.
Sure, a sweep of the Reds would have been huge. But on a day when most Pirates fans brought very small brooms to the ball park, perhaps because they are fearful of the Bucs poor record in trying to secure a series sweep. Perhaps it’s because Pirates fans realize a lineup card filled with so many young players won’t sweep a powerful team like the Reds on most days no matter how strong of a pitching effort the team receives.
Chase d’Arnaud will have plenty of time to show Pirates fans love without throwing baseballs to them during the game. We’re really looking forward to those days. Along with the days when the Pirates hottest hitter, isn’t asked to bunt with two runners on base and nobody out.
The Pirates ain’t in first place…
Highlights from the stands:
As soon as we sat down the man behind me said…
Heh, I’m not from around here, but I am a Pirates fan. I see your Alvarez jersery…I think they should trade him. Send him down the road.
The man sitting next to the franchise was a long time season ticket holder and asked the franchise who is favorite player was…
Pedro Alvarez was Brody’s answer to which the Pirates fan said, “Neil Walker. Good choice.”
Heh, whatever. The guy has been watching bad baseball for years.