Today is my birthday. My wonderful fiance got me the best present imaginable: Pirates playoff tickets. That is right folks, we were at the game last night to see the Buccos beat the Reds in the one game series. It was absolutely amazing.
We got there a bit early and started walking around trying to find a place to stand. This was a bit tough. The rotunda was jam packed, like three people deep at every possible spot. Offord met us there and he said he found a nice place to stand, so we went to section 132 and stood at the entrance.
I knew it was going to be a great night the moment I heard Andrew McCutchen’s mom sing the National Anthem. When they announced she was going to sing it, my initial thought was “oh, that’s cool of the Pirates to allow her to do that.” Then she started singing and I realized that she could have done the anthem at any stadium for any event. She was that good. It gave me chills to hear.
The crowd was so into the game. When do you hear a crowd go nuts for a first strike in the first inning? I remember being at the Red Sox/Pirates game and how intense it was during the ninth inning. Multiply that feeling by ten and realize that it was only the first inning!
Then came the second inning. I am sure that everyone has heard about the Cue-to chants. It reminded me of a game I went to when I was kid. The Pirates beat the Mets and we were all doing the Darryl Strawberry chant. Although, this was a bit more helpful. Cueto literally dropped the ball while on the mound, then gave up a home run to Russell Martin. Apparently in the third inning he decided to pitch from the stretch (I thought maybe the crowd was getting him to the point that he forgot it was the beginning of the inning).
When Cueto dropped the ball and then Martin homered, it reminded me of…well nothing. I have never seen anything like that before. However, if you told me about that happening and wanted me to guess what team it happened to, I would have said the Pirates. That feels like something that would happen to the Pirates back during the losing streak.
The guy standing beside me (who was getting pretty drunk) decided to tell me about how Joey Votto is a bad hitter because he has too many walks and only 73 RBIs. He kept saying that if Votto would take the bat off his shoulder he would be much better. As he said that, Votto struck out swinging. I laughed. Thanks guy!
As the game went on, it became more apparent that the Pirates were going to win. It just did not seem like the Reds actually cared about the game. When the bases were loaded and Byrd grounded to Phillips (who McCarver says is the second greatest defensive second basemen of all time), Justin Morneau stopped, which pretty much confused BP. He could have easily tagged him and thrown to first, but instead he hesitated and then threw to second to get one out allowing Walker to score.
Offord thought for sure that Melancon would pitch the eighth inning, but I figured it would be Wilson or someone else. Hurdle usually does not like to use Melancon/Grilli unless it is a save situation. Tony Watson came in and gave up a home run, but that was all the Reds could muster. Then Grilli came in for the ninth and shut them down. It was great to see Jason Grilli almost at peak form.
The Pirates beat the Reds and now take on the Cardinals in the NLDS. I am excited, nervous, and just about every other emotion you can imagine. Thank you Lindsey for the wonderful gift! I love you so much!