Tonight was like anticipating a Grateful Dead show, only to have them open with "Hell in a Bucket" or "Picasso Moon." Kind of a buzz kill.
But with The Dead things could change quickly, and deadheads knew the night would get better, maybe even great. Jerry might soar, the second set opener might rock, the whole night could turn magical at any moment.
Or not. Jerry might end up noodling all night, never really taking it to the next level, and you end up back in parking lot during Space>Drums.
On a perfect evening in Pittsburgh, and with John Kruk, Buster Olney, Jon Hamm and Jaff Decker wandering around PNC Park, the Cardinals jumped all over the Pirates in the first inning, killing the mood.
But the Bucs had many opportunities remaining to make this one special.
The Pirates most explosive power hitter, Pedro Alvarez, almost lit up PNC Park when his bid for a game-tying grand slam home run in the fifth fell just short.
In the seventh, with the score, 4-2, the Bucs scored a run and had men on first and second, as Carlos Martinez pitched against Jose Tabata. Again, the park buzzed, but Tabata flew out to center, ending the inning.
When the Cardinals tacked on two runs in the eighth many folks left, expectations unfullfilled.
Then, in the ninth, "IT" almost happened. Having narrowed the score to 6-5, the Bucs had bases loaded and no outs. As time seemingly slowed down, and the nervous energy built, the Bucs were so very close to giving those who remained a baseball thrill, and sending the team truckin' to Milwaukee with all kinds of good vibes and momentum.
But the Pirates two hottest players of the homestand, Ike Davis (.407/.515/.518) and Jordy Mercer (.275/.300/.483), failed to bring home the tying run. Davis popped out, and Mercer grounded into a game-ending 1-2-3 double play.
"We gave it nine games of hard this homestand," Hurdle said. "It was a good homestand, a positive homestand, we fought to the end."
-P- Tonight was the 20th one-run game the Pirates have played this season. Their record is now 12-8 in one-run affairs.
-P- After running into all types of trouble in the first, allowing four runs on four hits, Charlie Morton settled down and held the Cardinals in place for the next five innings. He finished the night having allowed seven hits, four runs, one earned, in six innings pitched.
"You don't get to hit two off the tee up here," Hurdle said. "He made a nice adjustment (after the first inning), he flat out battled after that."
Morton's record for the season drops to a hard-luck, 0-5, on the season, with his solid ERA, 3.11, and decent FIP, 4.11, yet to result in a winning decision.
-P- Pedro Alvarez committed two throwing errors tonight, giving him eight for the season. Since the statistic has been kept, the most throwing errors by a third baseman in a season is 16 by Mark Reynolds.
-P- The Bucs now head off to Milwaukee for what should be an interesting three game series starting Tuesday night. Game one probables are Gerrit Cole and Marco Estrada
Neal Huntington's comments
The Pirates General Manager met with the press this afternoon. There were no Polanco-related questions.
Huntington said that Clint Hurdle did a "Major League manager's job" last night by getting creative and making the most of what he had.
Regarding Marte's injury, Huntington said there was no indication that he will need a stint of the disabled list, but they are taking a wait and see approach.
"Everything we have right now is that it's just spasms and it will work itself out," Huntington said.
Finally, Huntington did not seem too concerned about the pitching line from Wandy Rodriguez's rehab start, reminding the press of A.J. Burnett's rehab start last season. He said that Rodriguez's breaking ball showed good movement and the fastball was down.
Tony Sanchez knows his attributes
His MLB The Show attributes, that is.
After the game last night, Gaby Sanchez referenced the video game MLB The Show, when he jokingly credited his stolen base to gaining two speed attribute points because he was playing the outfield.
After watching Tony Sanchez play MLB The Show yesterday afternoon, I talked to him today about the experience of playing himself in the game. He said that it's the first time he's been represented in a game, and he really enjoys it. He went on to list all of his ratings, including his attribute splits (vs. lefties and righties). He has no complaints with his ratings, saying that he was more concerned that they got his avatar right (he's happy with it).
"I don't care about the attributes," Sanchez said smiling. "They could give me all zeroes, as long as it looks like me and they get the picture right."
We went on to talk about how realistic the game is at replicating the pitcher-hitter confrontation. He said that it is as close as you can get to the real thing and that he is amazed by how accurate the artificial intelligence is, mentioning how sim-Trevor Rosenthal set him up by changing his sim-eye level in the game he played yesterday. In an interesting anecdote, he joked that when he started sim-Liriano vs. the sim-Cardinals a few days ago, he was sitting there saying to himself "this is how I'm going to call the game today." Lastly, apparently Sanchez's teammates give him grief for trying harder when his avatar is batting, and accuse him of just flailing away with everyone else.