Saturday, August 22, 2015

Are the Bucs Going All the Way?

So today, in the third game in Pittsburgh between the two teams I follow, the Pirates prevailed 3-2, showing their postseason potential.

They crushed three solo homers, two by Kang and the walk-off in the ninth by Marte, who earlier in the field had robbed a homer from Brandon Crawford.  The Giants dinked their two runs and had plenty of chances for more--twice they had a man on third with one out, and didn't cash in.  As good as Byrd looked yesterday, he looked woeful today.  Duffy, Belt and Blanco are all playing well, but when your RBI guys--Posey and Crawford in this lineup--aren't hitting, chances to win decline severely.

Mike Leake had a very good start, giving up just one hit--unfortunately it was Kang's first homer.  Cole had a bumpier time for the Pirates but he pitched out of jams most of the time.  The Giants stole bases, the Pirates got caught.  The Pirates' second-string catcher had a real tough game.  But the Pirates' difference-maker is power up and down the lineup.

So after Hunter Strictland picks off a runner at third and there are two outs, on the next pitch Kang hits a long home run.  And in the ninth, as Kontos seems very sharp and in command, and with two strikes on the batter, Marte hits a long one to end the game.

I'm finding it impossible to root against the Giants or even remain neutral--I've just listened to too many of their games.  But I had a familiar feeling when the score was tied in the eighth.  It was the feeling that the Pirates, playing with assurance, were going to find a way to win it, in the ninth or the fifteenth, whatever it took.  It's the same kind of confidence as with the 1979 champions.

The Pirates just have that feeling about them now.  This could be their year.

Meanwhile the Giants didn't lose ground, as the Dodgers lost to Houston again.  The Pirates picked up a game on St. Louis, which lost big to San Diego.

Correction: The Giants sent Chris Heston down to make room for Marlon Byrd, not Mike Leake.  They subsequently sent down outfielder Ryan Lollis to make room for Leake.  It sounds as if Pagan's return is still a week or so away, pretty close to--and perhaps past--Sept. 1, when active rosters expand from 25 to 40 when Heston and perhaps Lollis rejoin the Giants.

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