Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Tale of Two Fanbases. BUCS WIN.

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To the north of the Allegheny River, there was glorious victory. To the south, crushing defeat. Such is the life of the Pittsburgh sports fan tonight. Both games resulted in one side recording a 0 in the score sheet. As much as I love the Buccos, playoff games (especially Game 7s) are far more important than a baseball game in April, and I would give anything to switch the results of the games. Unfortunately, it is something which no one but the players and coaches (and occasionally, the officials) have any control over.

While 18,507 watched the Pens lose in heartbreaking fashion to the Tampa Bay Lightning, a mere 9,048 witnessed a minor miracle in PNC Park. A win, a shutout win no less, against the defending World Series champions. Yes, I realize the Giants have not played anywhere near the level the were at last year so far. But I also realize that the Pirates have been in a slump since the end of the Reds series, losers of 5 of their last 7 games. A win like this shows the fans that there is hope for this Pirates team; slim hope, but hope nonetheless. James McDonald was fairly dominant in his 6 innings, allowing just 4 hits (although he did walk 4). The bullpen was even more masterful, allowing just 2 hits and 1 walk the rest of the way. Chris Resop is starting to resemble Evan Meek from last year (note to Evan, please find your own way back to the way you were!).

As for the hitting, it continues to struggle, but it did just enough to earn the win here tonight. Neil Walker went 2 for 4 tonight, and he now has the highest eligible average on the team at .286. Steve Pearce may finally be turning into the hitter he was touted to be, as he went 2 for 3 with a double, raising his average to .292, albeit with only 24 at-bats. Chris Snyder drove in the winning run, and Jose Tabata drove in the ultimately unnecessary insurance run.

And so the eyes of the Pittsburgh sports faithful turn to baseball (or for the Pirate haters, arena football). The Pirates are now just 2 games under .500 and have a chance to close that gap to 1 tomorrow if they can take the rubber match from the slumping champs. After 24 games, the Pirates record-wise are only slightly better than their last year counterparts (11-13 vs. 10-14), but the talent on the field is much higher than it was last year. Time will tell if they finally have a breakout year this year. God knows they're due.

Let's Go Bucs.

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