Sometimes, the other team is just better. It doesn’t always take a major gaffe or singular mistake in a crucial moment. Sometimes, from the start of the game until it is all but in doubt, one team plays better.
Johnny Cueto wasn’t exactly good last night but the Pittsburgh Pirates did not waste any of his mistakes. They hit the early mistakes of Johnny Cueto out of the park and they took advantage of a shaky Sean Marshall. It could have been worse but it was more than enough as the Pirates move on to face the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS.
Unless you are a fan of the recently-struggling Cardinals (Baseball’s Best!), it is hard to imagine not enjoying the rise of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Sure, compared to the Pythagorean record or projected true talent, Pittsburgh seems to have been pretty lucky so far. First of all, almost any team that wins their division has some luck. Secondly, are we really going to complain about the Pirates having good luck for once?
In any case, I did not really see them as contenders of any sort this season, and I would guess I was not alone. The Pirates themselves thought they had a chance, given the moves they made to shore up their team over the last year, particularly the starting rotation.
The Pirates primarily have relied neither on big-time draft picks nor big-name free agent signing. Rather, they have put together a staff good enough to contend through shrewd trades and buy-low opportunities. Unless a team is going to get exceptionally lucky with their draft picks or has a huge payroll (not an option for Pittsburgh), this is what they have to do, thus, the Pirates’ rotation is worth examining.
Since 2011, I’ve developed something of a Pavlovian response to the Pirates and early-season winning: I expect a collapse. And I was expecting a collapse this year, until not very long ago. But on Sunday afternoon, when I saw Russell Martin walk off to secure a sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers.
The video isn’t yet available for embedding from MLB.com, nor is it available on their YouTube page. (Ed. Note: Found it!) However, there are what looks like hundreds of videos with single-digit views. I’m not really sure what they’re doing with that page. You can see Martin’s walk-off here, though.
Martin’s knock — a squibbing grounder past the outstretched Jean Segura‘s glove — wasn’t much. It was the perfect cap for a slog of a game — 14 innings, a two-hour rain delay that knocked out both starters within two innings, and just 10 hits prior to the Pirates’ mini-rally to win it. It was the Springfield Tire Yard Fire of baseball games. Six hours and still burning strong!
Gerrit Cole started for the Pittsburgh Pirates last night at PNC Park. It went swimmingly, as the Pirates beat the San Francisco Giants 8-2 in front of a very enthusiastic crowd. Cole, as you may know, was the first overall pick in the 2011 draft out of UCLA. The Pirates took their time and set the stage for their phenom’s debut.
Cole pitched very well in his first big league start. He showed the big fastball that let him go 1.1 plus the solid slider/curve to keep hitters off balance. His final line was 6.1 innings pitched, seven hits, two earned runs, two runs,two strikeouts and no walks. Not a bad way to kick off a big league career.
It’s Gerrit Cole day in Pittsburgh. For those Bucs fans and prospect porn addicts who had hoped this would be some sort of grandiose affair, sorry to disappoint you. The 2011 first overall pick’s Major League debut has a rather ordinary feeling about it as the hour draws nearer.
Cole’s arrival in Pittsburgh is a timely one, though. With Wandy Rodriguez‘s health status currently up in the air, and Cole having already been held down long enough to ensure he’s under team control for an extra year, it’s an opportune moment to run out the franchise’s top prospect. As far as Super Two status is concerned, the 22-year old would accrue a tick over two years of service at the completion of the 2015 season if he were to remain with the club moving forward. At this point, though, it won’t matter much if he can step in and help the 37-26 Pirates.
I don’t think we’ll ever learn. Home runs crushed down the line always look like they flew farther than they really did, because they clear the shortest fence in the yard by so long. Clutch home runs especially look like they flew farther than they really did, because that’s what clutch does to our brains.. That’s probably why the ball Garrett Jones cracked into the Allegheny River on Sunday looked like it flew about 575 feet.
Jones’s bomb gave Pittsburgh a tie against division rival Cincinnati in the bottom of the eighth inning. He just barely hooked it around the foul pole — in fact, by the time it landed it may have been on the foul side of the pipe.
There is art and beauty in everything in our world, so long as you bother to look. Sure, this Pittsburgh Pirates tribute/ripoff of the Saturday Night Live opening credits is ripe for the mocking. It wouldn’t take much work to snark on it for a few minutes and then call it a day.
Instead, let’s admire this 2:00 minute video which plays on the PNC Park videoboard to introduce the Pirates lineup for its production values and and loving devotion to the source material. The only thing it’s missing is the Keenan Thompson “bicyclists high five” that I enjoy whenever I catch SNL.
If you still think this video is cheesy, at least admire Pedro Alvarez‘s sweet Thundercats tshirt. He’s just the best.
Hit the jump for another great Pirates scoreboard video, probably the best scoreboard video in the history of the world.