Well, I finally made it to a game at PNC Park this year. Needless to say, it was a pretty darn good one, with the good guys ultimately coming out on top. After the jump, in no particular order, are my many thoughts after tonight.
So, we got there at about 5:30, in time to catch most of the Nats BP. This was obviously pretty cool in and of itself, but what made it outstanding was the fact that we had seats along the third base line, so I was able to get right down on the railing and watch from up close. In particular, I got a good look at Ryan Zimmerman taking infield at third base - needless to say, it was quite impressive. As he was heading in to take BP after taking groundballs, he took a ball on the field and looked for someone to throw it to. I waved at him, and he chucked it to me. Definitely a keeper, as far as souvenirs go.
Staying with the Nats for a moment, the third-inning HR by Danny Espinosa was very impressive - an opposite-field liner that cleared the Clemente Wall in about two seconds from the time of contact. Of course, all first-ML-homers are memorable for the player, but that one was downright astounding. I'll be keeping an eye on that kid.
Going to the Pirates now. We'll start with Duke. He was basically good enough to win, no better and no worse. Obviously, he had run out of gas by the sixth (I'm sure BucsFanInCA called attention to this in the gamethread). He wasn't good, but he wasn't bad, either. Also, he successfully executed a sac-bunt, which scores points for him in my book.
I think Ronny Cedeno is growing on me. Outside the Pirates' dugout, he knelt down and said a lengthy prayer prior to the start of the game, which, being a Christian, I certainly appreciated. In the game, he didn't disappoint, either, going 2-4 with a very impressive opposite-field double in the third, on which he seemed to merely flick the ball into the right-center gap. He was above-average in the field, too, particularly throwing out Pudge on a chopper in the second.
Andrew McCutchen is an interesting case. During the pre-game warmups, he gave no hint that he was in any way worn-down or depressed, doing everything with a grin and a laugh. However, he looked very flat during the actual game, going 0-4 with a K, as well as a short sac-fly to plate Ronny in the third. Tough to judge the guy's mindset, but I think he could certainly use a few days off down the stretch, at least.
I was very excited to see John Bowker's first start as a Pirate - he didn't show much at the plate, though, going 0-3 with a K before being replaced by Milledge. He did make an above-average defensive play in the sixth, though, cutting off a base hit by Zimmerman that was ticketed for the gap, holding him to a single.
Jose Tabata is a base-hitting machine, plain and simple. If he can develop 20-HR power, this guy could possible be a perennial All-Star.
Hopefully, today's game will bust either Jones, Alvarez, or both out of their respective slumps. Both had very hard-hit balls today, particularly Pedro, who absolutely stroked his 2-RBI double - the only ball hit harder than that today was the Espinosa homer.
Finally, I doubt I was the only one horrified by JR's use of the bullpen today, mainly the use of Ledezma, Burres, and Park in hold situations. However, these three guys ultimately combined for...well, one scoreless inning. Still, it's better than the usual explosion.
This leads me to Resop and Hanrahan. Unfortunately, Meek was unavailable for tonight's game, but Resop and Hanrahan were nothing short of lights-out in their mound time. Resop used his low-90s fastball extremely effectively, blowing away Morse, Pudge, and Espinosa with it. Of course, Hanrahan was even harder to hit, though Desmond managed to sneak one through the infield on him. He sat at 96-97, hitting 98 on one pitch to Zimmerman. The fastball/slider combination he has is incredible, rivaling even Carlos Marmol's, in my opinion (Marmol's better slider being offset by his horrendous control).
As usual, PNC Park was absolutely terrific, as was Primanti's before the game. The best ballpark in the world, and the best sandwich in the world. Hard to beat.
So, that is my dissertation of tonight's game. Very enjoyable experience, and I hope to repeat it before the season ends. I guess I'll wrap this up, before myself or any readers fall asleep. Go Bucs!