One word best describes the Pirates’ wild-card win over Cincinnati: PROFESSIONAL.
The Pirates went out before an overflow crowd of 40,000-plus at PNC Park and calmly dismantled Cincinnati. It was impossible to tell it was the Pirates’ first postseason appearance in 20 years. They never flinched.
The Reds did.
The Reds were shambolic. The bully got punched in the mouth and didn’t know what to do. Johnny Cueto dropped the ball. Zack Cozart and Brandon Phillips kicked the ball. Phillips got it right when he said, “We choked. We did.”
Reds 3B Todd Frazier just missed a three-run homer in the fourth inning with Cincinnati trailing, 3-1. Frazier’s long fly went just wide of the LF foul pole. “It’s a different ballgame if Frazier’s ball stays fair,” said Reds manager Dusty Baker.
What a baby. It went foul. On the night, the Reds weren’t even close.
Pirates GM Neal Huntington had been roundly criticized prior to this season, and rightly so. But Huntington got hot at the right time. Consider last night’s heroes:
*Francisco Liriano, free-agent signing this past off-season.
*Russell Martin, free-agent signing this past off-season.
*Marlon Byrd, late-season trade acquisition.
The most miraculous moment came when Neil Walker hit a double right-handed. That’s Walker’s second extra-base hit of the season right-handed.
If that ball leaves the park – and it almost did – they should have stopped the game and declared the Pirates world champs. The miracles keep coming.
Except at this point it isn’t a miracle.
Before the season, manager Clint Hurdle said the goal was 95 wins. Everyone laughed. Me, too. But last night was victory No. 95. Onward and upward.
A.J. Burnett gets Game 1 at. St. Louis. Burnett pitching in the playoffs in akin to Gen. Patton finally getting a chance to kill Germans.
The electricity at PNC was wonderful, but hardly unique. The Penguins and Steelers are frequent playoff participants. Do it one time out of 20, and the ga-ga seems greater. Two decades of failure jacks up subsequent accomplishments.
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