Monday, August 20, 2012

The Afterglow

Well, the Bucs got that fans buzzing again; even the Heinz Field crowd broke out in a "Let's Go Bucs" when the final results were announced at the Steeler game. After a dismal home stand, they went to St. Louis ready to become irrelevant, but instead took the series from the Red Birds with a strong McDonald performance and a nineteen inning, everybody-did-something marathon yesterday.

Player highlights:
  • Jeff Karstens threw two-hit ball through seven innings;
  • Jason Grilli, Kevin Correia, Chris Resop, Joel Hanrahan, Jared Hughes, and Juan Cruz worked 10 innings, giving up a run on seven hits;
  • Wandy Rodriguez was bumped from his start to make his first relief appearance since 2006 - and got the win;
  • James McDonald banged a pinch single and scored;
  • Cutch had four whiffs - and 3 RBI;
  • Neil Walker and Jordy Mercer were supposed to be out with injuries but they both pinch hit. Mercer went on to play six innings in the field and then fly home to be part of his son's birth;
  • Clint Barmes made a couple of sweet plays at short;
  • Josh Harrison started at second and then went to right, when he ran full steam into the fence to make a grab in the nineteenth inning;
  • Travis Snyder pulled a groin running out a pop up;
  • The Fort blocked a handful of Hanny sliders and possibly saved the game in the fourteenth;
  • JT came back from his minor league demotion to pick up a pair of hits and a walk;
  • And oh yah, Pedro bombed a 1-2 slider over the wall in right center.

A few notes:
  • At nineteen innings, the Sunday contest became the longest game played in MLB this season, and it took six hours and seven minutes to complete.
  • It was also the longest Pirates-Cardinals game ever. They played two 17-inning games, on May 30th, 1938 and August 2nd, 1982. The Bucs won those two 5-4 and 4-2.
  • The teams played 44 of 50 rostered players, using every available position player and 18 pitchers (two as pinch hitters).
  • The Pirate lineup started five players hitting under .235, and the Cards started five players who were over .300.
  • The sixteen guys that took the bump tossed 574 pitches (281 by the Pirates, 293 by the Cards). They gave up nine runs on 27 hits, 10 walks, one beaned batter and 34 whiffs.
  • Six Pirates had two hits; For the Red Birds, Jon Jay had 3 and three of his teammates had a pair of knocks.
  • The Fort went 0-for-8, as did 3B David Freese. LF Matt Holliday went 0-for-7.
  • Jeff Karstens started this game and also the Jerry Meals game last year.
  • And here's what Grant Brisbee of Sports Nation thinks about the win.

The Pirates lost in nineteen last year and went on to lose 12-of-13. We're not predicting that since they won in nineteen innings that the reverse is true and that they're about to get on a roll (though it would be nice.) But it does provide an afterglow in the clubhouse, a validation of grinding it out, and that lesson pays off during the dog days and playoff pressure cooker. As Jason Grilli put it, it was a "big boy game."

Then there's the other side, letting it all hang out and still losing. "I don't know if it can be any more disappointing," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. That the Pirates avoiding that onrushing feeling of 2011 deja vu all over again rushing at them like a runaway freight might be the best result of the victory.

Turning point or teaching point? The season will give us the answer in 41 games.

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