Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sunday 4-18-10 vs. Cincinnati

After a fairly-disastrous road trip, the Pirates have come home to lay waste to my sister's boyfriend's favorite baseball team, the Cincinnati Reds! Fortunately, the Pirates happen to be his second favorite baseball team, so it was a win-win situation for him.
You've got to respect someone whose second favorite team is the Pittsburgh Pirates. Number One always goes to your home town team, or in the case of many Pittsburgh citizens, some other team that has nevertheless managed to attain significant sentimental value that will, within reason, carry someone through a few disappointing seasons (yes, I know 16 of them is really pushing it for almost everyone). My point is this, though: not many people ever actively choose their favorite team. Rather, it becomes slowly engrained.
Your second favorite team can be an objective choice, however. You can choose based on any kind of logical criteria: record, roster, style, etc. My sister's boyfriend Tom's second favorite team is the Pirates, however. A decision based not on math, but heart.
A Pirates fan has to put up with a lot in this city; if you ever want to learn the meaning of the term 'Jagoff', wear a Pirates t-shirt to the strip district. At the same time, you'll also get a pretty good idea of what it feels like to be a crust punk, goth or juggalo, but without the sense of community.
My point is this: liking the Pittsburgh Pirates is a choice that constantly gets thrown in your face. You have to defend it to people who will treat you like you're mentally ill. Anyone who willingly accepts this baggage has a hell of a lot of character, to say the least. If this describes anyone reading this, never fear: there are dozens of us.
This was another Pittsburgh Grey day; the weather was fifty degrees at the very most, and the attendance reflected this. It's not the Pirates record, though; right now we are two games over .500 and tied for first in our division!
Pitching coach Joe Kerrigan and relief pitcher Joel Hanrahan execute the rare reverse palm pass as a sign of respect and affection. Kerrigan's face reflects none of this, but that's because he's stoic as hell.
Milledge and McCutchen goof off before the game.
Milledge is beginning to get it done in a big way. Two nights in a row he has managed to score a game-changing run in the ninth with three balls, two strikes and two outs. Today he got a single and make several stunning defensive plays in left field. His growth defensively is especially significant; when he first came to the Pirates, it is said that he didn't even know which way to correctly hold his glove. Perry Hill, you are truly missed.
That neck thing is weird, though.
Here we see Paul Maholm successfully commune with the God of Baseball. He would go on to have his most successful game of the season, going six and two thirds with seven strike outs, two runs, and only four hits.

Garrett Jones covering first. After driving in the game-winning run last night, Jones got a run and made several good defensive plays today.

Maholm attempts to pick off a baserunner.
Backup catcher Jason Jaramillo had a huge game today, driving in three runs with a double.
He also got massively beaned in the head by a pitch. Despite the sickeningly-loud sound of the ball coming into contact with his helmet, he was uninjured.
This is a picture of Jaramillo hitting the decisive double.
Bronson Arroyo pitching.
Arroyo puts forth a lot of effort at bat for a pitcher. Here we see a pitch collide with his shin.
Down he goes...
...And yet seems oddly serene.
Nevertheless, he seemed genuinely upset at not putting a ball in play. Some day I'll do a post dedicated to sad baseball photos, and this one is almost certain to lead it off.
Crosby also registers palpable disappointment following a failed at-bat.

Delwyn Young was the first Pirate to get a hit off Arroyo, leading to a five-run fourth inning.
Young doing his best Arroyo Striking Out impression.

Church drove in the first run of the inning.
McCutchen never managed to score in this inning, but seeing him make it to third off a bad catch was a joy to behold.

The bullpen was also fantastic today. Here we see Hanrahan relieving Maholm.
I know the baggy pants are partially to blame, but I swear to God legs shouldn't be able to do this.

Brendan Donnelly on the pitcher's mound. He did the name proud.

And Dotel once again delivered a great performance to redeem the blown save from two nights back. Sure, Jay Bruce got a second 1-rbi home run, but that guy was having his own kind of ball game.

Dotel is a pitcher who is not afraid to exhibit obvious satisfaction when he is successful, as shown here.

And just like that, we are two games over .500. Prevailing wisdom suggests that this will not last, but prevailing wisdom also suggests that this prevailing wisdom will not hold true forever. So to speak....
And finally, here is a foul ball coming right at me. You can even see the stitching, for God's sake.

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