Sunday, September 27, 2009

Yes, The Fans Do Appreciate It

The Pirates pulled out all the stops on Fan Appreciation day, and shame on any of the 26,831 fans that left in disgust after the top of the ninth.

The zaniness began in the third/fourth inning. The Bucs scored twice in the third, aided greatly by back-to-back wild pitches by Clayton Kershaw. Nothin' like a little gas drizzled on the fire, hey?

Then the Dodgers put the first two runners aboard in the fourth; Robby Diaz caught one stealing, and Daniel McCutchen picked the other off of first. Nothin' like a little damage control, hey? And those two plays may have been the pivotal outs of the afternoon.

The game would stay 2-1 until the seventh. McCutchen gave up a single (6 innings, 2 runs, five hits, two walks, three K's), and Captain Hook replaced him with Jesse Chavez. Chavez gave up a double, and after striking out Russell Martin, intentionally walked Orlando Hudson, bringing Jim Thome up in a pinch-hitting role.

He got the DP ground ball to short, but Luis Cruz mishandled it, leaving only a play at first, and that brought home the tying run. Joel Hanrahan, recovered from a tender elbow, shut down the Big Blue Machine in the eighth.

Still tied in the ninth, Matt Capps got the ball. We all know how that ends up. The first three guys singled off him, and before you could say "what hit me" it was 5-2, LA. Not that he was entirely at fault; Brian Bixler couldn't get the force-out at home on a ball hit to him, and Robby Diaz allowed a passed ball for another free score.

The Buccos had some life left in their battered bones, though. They may be bad, but they rarely mail one in.

Delwyn Young and Brandon Moss led off the ninth with pinch-hit base hits. After a first-pitch force out by Andrew McCutchen, Dodger cast-off Andy LaRoche beat out an infield single to plate a run, and the runners moved up a base when Rafael Furcal threw the ball into short right field.

Garrett Jones was intentionally walked (for the third time; guess who Joe Torre decided was not going to let beat him) to load the sacks for clean-up hitter by default Lastings Milledge.

And hey, what better ending for Fan Appreciation day than cranking a 98 MPH heater into right field for a single? The ball tailed and hopped past by Andre Ethier, clearing the bases and giving Pittsburgh a most improbable 6-5 victory.

The players and fans partied, and Joe Torre was seen casting an evil eye towards both the pitcher's mound and right field, underneath the shadow of a flapping Jolly Roger. Hey, all as it should be, right?

Maybe Pittsburgh should play the Dodgers and Phillies all the time.

-- Garrett Jones' trio of intentional walks gives him a team-high eight, overtaking Ryan Doumit's half dozen. Not quite Albert Pujols' 43, but then again, Sir Albert hits a little better with guys on.

-- Lasting Milledge got the Pirate's 45th outfield assist of the season yesterday afternoon, tops in MLB and the best number in 25 years for Pittsburgh.

-- The US won the World Cup today, 10-5, over the Cuban national team. Brad Lincoln was roughed up a bit as a reliever, but came away with the win (3-0, 2.89 ERA). Pedro was held hitless, and finished up with a tournament line of .259/5/12.

-- Remember Rajai Davis, the guy Pittsburgh traded in 2007 for Matty Mo? In 340 at-bats, he's hitting .318 (.376 OBP) for Oakland, with 61 runs scored, 41 RBI, and 45 stolen bases.

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