Before a crowd of over 32,000 at PNC Park, Francisco Liriano and the Pirates dominated the Cardinals in all kinds of ways in the opening game of The Most Important Series In Human History (TM), 9-2.
Liriano had a great slider working, and he crushed the Cardinals over seven innings, striking out eight and walking two while allowing one earned run. Both those walks came in the seventh, when Liriano appeared to be laboring (and it also looked as if he might be hurting a bit -- let's hope that isn't the case), but, with two men on and two outs, Liriano got Kozma to fly out and hand the game to the Pirates' bullpen.
The Pirates got four runs in their first four batters of the game, as Jose Tabata walked, Neil Walker got hit by a pitch, Andrew McCutchen singled home a run, and Pedro Alvarez hit a three-run bomb. The Cards got one in the sixth after Tony Cruz led off with a triple, and the score remained at 4-1 when Liriano exited.
If Clint Hurdle had known what was coming in the bottom of the seventh, he might not have left Liriano out for so long. The Pirates scored five in the sort of easy, long inning that's been hard to come by this year, piling up hits and walks. They tamed the RISP monkey in that inning, and they also got a sacrifice fly. They hadn't had one since May, and Pirates fans suddenly seemed to be talking about that today, so when Gaby Sanchez brought one home that way, the PNC Park faithful cheered as if the Pirates had just won a playoff series.
Which ... hey, why not? It was a great day. Let us cheer. Most of the fans appeared to stick around even after the Pirates built a 9-1 lead, and so many of them saw Vic Black put a bunch of runners on and allow a run in the ninth to make it 9-2, which ... who cares. Tonight was awesome. Let's enjoy it.