Real Steal in Steel City

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The last few years have been sweet in the city where Iron City beer is the drink of choice. After two decades of futility, the Pittsburgh Pirates had a winning season in 2013 and haven’t stopped since. Yesterday’s win over the Giants was the kind of game the Pittsburgh Nine has been stealing from their opposition all year, particularly at home. The Pirates won 3-2 on Starling Marte’s walkoff home run in the last of the ninth.

Earlier on, Marte had robbed Giants’ shortstop Brandon Crawford of a home run with a leaping catch in left field, bailing out starting pitcher Gerrit Cole. That near-miss may generate some talk around the Cole family dinner table, as Cole is set to marry Crawford’s younger  sister Amy.

Before Marte’s blast to close the deal, the only two Pirate runs came on two wallops by their shortstop Jung-ho Kang.

High dramatics are nothing new in Pittsburgh. Their Sports Center moment will always be Bill Mazeroski’s walkoff home run in game 7 of the 1960 World Series to beat the Yankees, 10-9. Earlier this year they took back-to-back extra-inning wins from the Cardinals at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, then did the same to the Mets at Citi Field.  Yesterday’s game had the atmosphere of the playoff baseball the locals expect to see in October. ESPN will show the series finale as the Sunday night game tonight.  It’s the first time in ages that their game of the week has been watchable in my opinion.

Exciting game in Exciting Park

I mentioned on Facebook yesterday that I considered Wrigley Field the most exciting park in the game after Coors Field. Yesterday the Cubs and Braves played the sort of tilt that Wrigley has been known for through the decades. With the Cubs down 7-6 in the last of the sixth, Addison Russell launched one out of the lot to knot the game at 7. Two innings later, Jorge Soler “pronounced Soul Air” and Miguel Montero went back to back to propel the Cubs to a 9-7 triumph. Care to guess which way the wind was blowing?

Baseball’s second-oldest ball park hosted a 26-22 Cubs game in the 1920s. On May 17, 1979 the Phillies beat the Cubs there 23-22 in 10 innings, a game which north side fans still remember. One of my correspondents told me yesterday “pitching duels are boring.” If she ever goes to Wrigley, the chances are she won’t see one. She’ll see ivy on the walls, old style beer for sale, but a 1-0 shutout seems unlikely.

You Gotta Read This Guy

If you want to hear how the D-Backs did against the Reds, Jim McLennan is the man to tell you about the D-backs fortunes.  He’s funny and flippant as I, with a bit more of a hard edge about his writing.

Oddity in Colorado

For the second night in a row, the Mets won by the same unlikely score, 14-9 in Denver. Even for that home run heaven, two games back-to-back with that same score are a long shot.

How long? No team had won 14-9 in back-to-back games since the Red Sox pulled it off in 1934.  Last night’s game wasn’t anywhere near as exciting as Friday night’s contest, although don’t tell that to the group Mets’ broadcaster Howie Rose dubbed “The 7-Line Army.” The name comes from the 7 subway fans take to reach Citi Field, the Mets’ home since 2009.

Unlike Friday’s back-and-forth battle, the Mets gained a huge lead and hoped for the best last night.

After their assault on Friday night, Rockies’ manager Walt Weiss was desperate for his starter Chris Rusin to pitch a long outing and save the bull pen. No such luck. Rusin took a worse beating than a blind kid in a high school hallway, leaving with nobody out in the top of the third, an inning where the Mets put 8 runs up. It was 14-3 Mets before the Rockies mounted any sort of rally, but it was too little too late.

The radio broadcast featured Howie Rose describing the only football game he ever broadcast, a 1976 policemen’s charity game between the NYPD and the Atlanta police. I’ve been on both ends of blowouts, even when your teams winning you dig around in your bag for stories to tell. By the way, if Howie’s football game comes up on E-bay, it’s worth whatever the asking price is. But that’s just as i see it.

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