Raise the Jolly Roger

Wednesday, August 24, 2011–Pirates 2, Brewers 0

Allegedly, the train gets to Pittsburgh right around midnight most of the time. I guess the occasional earthquake plays havoc with train schedules just like everything else. I did not get settled in until 5 a.m. yesterday for a game with a 12:30 first pitch.

When I made the plans for this trip, the Pirates were right in the middle of the race, and I was very excited to be a part—no matter how small—of a season that might see the Bucks’ playoff drought come to an end. Since then, the Pirates have taken a nosedive and now need a miracle to get back into the race. Nonetheless, it is still an attainable goal for the team to be the first Pittsburgh squad to finish a season with a winning record in 19 years. They’d need to go 9 games over .500 for the final 5 weeks of the season, which would be quite a feat, but doable for a team that plays well. Especially if they can put together a few more games like the one they played yesterday.

Aaron Thompson got his first Major League start, and—after giving up a leadoff single to Cory Hart, the first batter he faced—effectively cooled off the white-hot Brewers, (who had been knocking the ball all around the park the past two days) allowing only four hits in 4⅓ innings. Thompson was on a pitch count and did not qualify for the win, but still got a very nice hand for his efforts. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh scored a run in the 1st and another in the 4th, both scoring on sacrifice flies. That score held to the 9th. When the Pirates’ outstanding closer Joel Hanrahan—who has his own scoreboard entrance video, “Hammer Time”—allowed the first two Milwaukee batters to reach in the 9th, there was some unrest in the stands. Hanrahan then slammed the door, striking out the next three batters.

Something the Pirates do that I haven’t seen anywhere else is the “Kids Starting Lineup.” Before the game, nine members of the Pirates’ kids club are brought out onto the field and introduced and then take the field as if they were the home team. The “catcher” stole the show, he was 4 or 5 and needed a little help finding his way to the plate—help which was provided by the Green Parrot mascot picking him up and flying him over. The other noteworthy event: I nearly got brained by a hot dog. One of the between-inning promotions is the hot dog cannon. There are two of them, and I was watching the flights of the dogs on the right field line when I became aware that fans in my vicinity were bracing for impact from an edible missile from the left flank. I looked up but couldn’t see anything, so then I ducked. It landed two feet behind me.

Here’s the scorecard.

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