Diary of a long-suffering Pirates fan: Game #4. It was a Freaky Friday Weekend in Miami

First four-game sweep by the Pirates on the road to open the season in 121 years

Exposition Park Pittsburgh 1904
Exposition Park Pittsburgh 1904 / Transcendental Graphics/GettyImages

I have often wondered what it was like to live in Pittsburgh circa 1903-1910.  The automobile had just been invented but was not fully in use, so people still used horses. They also got around by trolleys.  So, it was a time when trolleys, horses, and cars all shared the same roads. And if you were going to a baseball game at Exposition Park on the north side of Pittsburgh (home of the Pirates), did you go by car, horse, or trolley?  And did the park have a parking lot for cars and hitching posts for horses?  And did fans tailgate by the hitching posts?

In 1903 the Pirates won the National League pennant and played in the first ever World Series.  They began that 1903 season by sweeping the Cincinnati Reds in four games in Cincinnati.  The Pirates would not have another four-game opening sweep until this year (121 years later) when the Pirates completed a four-game sweep of the Marlins in Miami.

It was another come-from-behind victory for the Pirates. 

And another very exciting game if you’re a Pirates fan.  I suspect Marlins fans did not find this game exciting so much as frustrating.  Once again, the Marlins blew a large lead, committed errors, issued walks, gave up all kinds of two-out hits, and basically played the way the Pirates have generally played in each of their many losing seasons. 

It was like a Freaky Friday weekend in Miami.  The Marlins woke up on Thursday morning and were no longer the playoff  Marlins of a year ago, but instead, embodied the players of a last-place team.  Meanwhile, the Pirates woke up Thursday morning and were suddenly transformed from a perennial doormat to a playoff contender.

There were so many happy stories to this weekend.  The Jared Jones debut in which he struck out 10 Marlins.  The bullpen that gave up only two runs in 20.1 innings.  Ke’Bryan Hayes having multiple hits in all four games leading to a .444 batting average.  Six Pirates’ starters with batting averages over .300.  The Pirates drawing 26 walks in the series and scoring 31 runs.

It will be interesting to see if the opening weekend moves the needle at all when the MLB power rankings come out.

But before we get too comfortable, the April schedule should present challenges very soon. The upcoming homestand has the Pirates first playing the Baltimore Orioles (second in the AL East) and then the Detroit Tigers (first in the AL Central). After that, the Pirates travel to Philadelphia for another four-game road series against yet another 2023 playoff team. 

There were three big offensive moments in this game for the Pirates. The first occurred in the seventh inning, when Rowdy Tellez hit a two-out, two-strike, 425-foot three-run homer to center field that erased a two-run deficit and gave the Pirates a 7-6 lead.

The other two offensive moments occurred in the 10th inning, on consecutive bunts by Pirates hitters. In an attempt to move a runner from second to third, Alika Williams put down a bunt. But Marlins pitcher threw wide of first base and Alika Williams was safe on the error.

The next batter, Jason Delay, then executed a safety squeeze bunt, which saw Oneil Cruz dive home ahead of a Jake Burger throw. This would prove to be the winning run in the game.

So while, I do wish to revel in my team’s current first place status in the NL Central, I see that the Milwaukee Brewers are themselves undefeated, having swept the NY Mets in New York.  And I see that the Brewers are in Pittsburgh April 22 to April 25 for a possible early NL Central showdown.  Not to get ahead of ourselves.

So the Pirates are an improbable 4-0, even exceeding the expectations of this overly optimistic fan. 

They are in first place. It’s still too early for me to say, “See I told you so.”  But after a weekend like this, it is getting very tempting to do so.