When I think of how a genuinely-good baseball team functions, I think of a car engine. This isn't to say that I know anything about car engines, really, save for this one tidbit that may have come from "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" or Drivers' Ed, or maybe just some science class: "A car engine's power is generated by a series of controlled explosions".
A good baseball team (or, really, any sports team) can be recognized by its individual components heating up until a synchronicity is achieved, at which point the whole thing begins to work together. And, as with a car engine, that's when you can begin to get to places.
The Pirates and their fans have endured a prolonged period of attempts at starting this team's engine, and the subsequent wringing of hands over which components are faulty. And what can be done to replace them.
I know this victory of reaching .500 is something to move past, a mile marker on the road to the ultimate goal of winning another world series. However, a game like yesterday, while far from perfect, indicates that the Pirates are getting closer to finally turning the engine over.
Neil Walker gestures victoriously to the fans as he returns to the dugout at the game's close. I found this to be a pretty touching moment; long before he was a professional baseball player, he was a Pittsburgh-area resident from a baseball family who wanted nothing more than to see his home town team get back on track. When Neil raised his hands in victory at the end of this ball game, he did so as a fan every bit as much as he did a ball player.
James McDonald had a terrific game, tying his record of 8 strikeouts, and lasting six innings. He did not get the W, but his pitching made it possible.
Steve Pearce played his ass off, going head-first into the stands and diving into an impromptu somersault while chasing pop-ups. In addition, he got himself a walk, a hit, an RBI, and a run.
Tabata got caught in a rundown following a pickoff that stranded him between bases. One of the great things about this kind of victory is that you hear next to nothing about stuff like this.
Pearce splits and keeps his foot on the bag. I love watching him do this stuff; last season, before his injury, he busted out this move in at least one home game .
Doumit watches as his hit turns into a 3-rbi home run.
Doumit getting this hit is absolutely perfect. No batter has been here longer (and no player, aside from Maholm), and his time here has been all too frequently plagued by injuries that have caused many to count him out. Despite this, he has hung in there and refused to let ego get to him. This was also apparently his fiftieth career home run, which is spooky awesome.
Now this would have been a fantastic photo that perfectly encapsulates the feeling at PNC Park after the win, but look who had to ruin the damn thing!