Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Yankees-Pirates Liveblog

Courtesy of Suddenlink digital cable (complete ripoff at $60 a month), the Polish Prodigy presents Yankees-Pirates Liveblog! Your on-air talent for tonight’s game broadcast on FSN Pittsburgh is Greg Brown (play-by-play) and former Bucco Bob Walk. The future Mrs. Polish Prodigy Jillian is alongside as we sit on the futon and eat Tombstone Garlic Toast pizza.

7:05 p.m. – We start on time as Pirates starter Tom Gorzelanny fires a strike to Yanks’ leadoff batter Melky Cabrera. The good vibrations cease, however, when the next four pitches are balls and the Melk Man gets a walk to start the game.

7:08 – Alright, Gorzo! The baby-faced lefty induces a soft ground ball from Average Shortstop Derek Jeter to Bucco SS Jack Wilson. A 6-4-3 double play ensues and the bases are empty. Huge, attentive crowd responds to that twin killing. Visible behind home plate are ‘Burgh celebs Dave Wannstedt (Pitt football coach), Kevin McClatchy (former Bucs CEO) and Franco Harris (the Immaculate Receiver).

7:11 – As usual this season, Gorzo is wild as he walks Bobby Abreu. Alex Rodriguez comes to the plate to a mix of cheers and mostly jeers. Gorzo gets him swinging on 93-mph 1-2 fastball. Hello, sir! Where has that been all year?

7:15 – On the first pitch of the bottom of the first, Nate McClouth ropes his 25th double of the year into the right-centerfield gap. Yanks’ righty starter Darrell Rasner is officially on the ropes.

7:19 – Freddy Sanchez, having a horrible offensive season, fights off a 3-2 pitch into shallow left for an RBI single. Some dude named Justin Christian kicks it around out there, and Freddy takes the extra base on the ugly-looking error. 1-0 Buccaneers and the sellout congregation is into it.

7:21 – A Jason Bay flyout and a Ryan Doumit (welcome back!) tapper later, Freddy’s at third for Adam LaRoche. The crowd buzzes in anticipation of a big strikeout…wait, that’s not right…

7:23 – I’m shocked, stunned! LaROACH rips a shot through the middle for a 2-0 Pirates advantage! With two outs, nonetheless! Exclamation points aside, that was an unexpected hit. Lot of chatter between pitches from the stands, feels like a bigger game than it is. Doug Mientkiewicz grounds out to second – inning over but the good guys are on top.

7:30 – After Jack Flash demonstrates how to play a hard grounder (puts his chest in front of it to knock it down), Jose Bautista ole’s a hot shot to third, allowing the ball to deflect into shallow left. Official scoring decision: single. Doesn’t tell the whole story. Meanwhile, Christian gets his first major league at-bat and flies out to end the inning. Brown called him Christiansen first and all I could think of was a hard wrist shot missing the net. Non-bandwagon Penguins fans will get that joke.

7:32 – This broadcast brought to you in high definition by A&L Motors. R.I.P Colby Armstrong.

I couldn’t resist.

7:38 – As Rasner finds his stride, I ponder how weird it is to see Jeter, A-Rod, Jason Giambi’s absurd moustache and the Yankee uniforms on the same field as my Pirates. Sometimes it’s almost like they play in different leagues and they haven’t played in Pittsburgh in nearly a half century. God, baseball is so backward.

7:42 – Gorzelanny is back to his old rhythm. And by that I mean a lack of it. He walks American League pitcher Rasner after getting ahead 0-2, then builds a 2-0 count to Cabrera. Time for a talk with Doumit, pitching coach Jeff Andrews and Andrews’ awesome space-age eyeglass frames. Doesn’t help. The Melk man walks.

7:47 – Jeter has another bad at-bat and hits a one-hopper back to Gorzo on a 3-1 pitch. Inexplicably, Tom looks to third instead of shooting for an easy 1-6-3 DP, then throws wildly to second. Jack Flash saves his butt by stretching to grab it and force Cabrera there. Bob Walk is incredulous, as he should be.

7:48 – “How about this?!” says my man Greg Brown as Abreu smacks a two-hopper to second baseman Sanchez. Double play and Gorzo is out of it again! He’d better lock it down soon or the Yanks are going to start making him pay. Whatever may be, it’s 2-0 Bucs after 2 ½.

7:54 – The JBay Rejuvenation continues! The Man from Trail pummels one into the North Side Notch; Sanchez, who singled after one out, chugs all the way around with no hesitation. Great hit, great baserunning, 3-zip Buccos. Winning is easy, isn’t it? Uh, get back to me on that one in two hours. The Polish Prodigy-endorsed Ryan Doumit comes up.

7:57 – The PP-endorsed Doumit strikes out on a full count pitch up in the zone. LaRoche taps out to the ‘Stache at first and that’s that. Three innings in the books and it looks good so far.

8:01 – The AFLAC Trivia Question: Which team has more Gold Gloves at second base? A) Pirates or B) Yankees. Bob says Pirates because Maz is in the house. Can’t argue with that logic, and I’m not being sarcastic in the least.

8:03 – As a dugout interview with Pirates manager John Russell from between innings plays, Jorge Posada doubles to left, the first legit hit given up by Gorzo. As Russell said, when Tom’s been in the zone, he’s been tremendous. From the angle behind the pitcher, I think his stuff looks as good as ever. On the radio side, Lanny Frattare and Steve Blass say A) on the trivia question, as does Greg in the TV booth.

8:05 – The struggling Robinson Cano’ pokes a single to left, scoring Posada and making it 3-1 Pirates in the fourth. Gorzelanny left the fastball up and Cano pulled his hands in to handle it. Balls-strikes ratio is 38-27. That’s 65 total and an Ouch Factor of 9.1. Christian lines a single on another letter-high delivery to bring up Rasner. Should be an escape hatch, but we’ll find out.

8:10 – I would say unbelievable, but I believe it. Five-pitch walk to Rasner. Fifth BB of the game. Cabrera with already his third AB. He drives a curveball deep to left. GET FOUL. It does. Ground ball to Jack on a 1-2 pitch for the force out. The PNC Park faithful don’t know whether to cheer or faint.

8:14 – The AFLAC Trivia answer is A) Pirates. Maz had an unreal eight Gold Gloves and Jose Lind had one. Lind must have had it on when he booted the ninth-inning grounder in Game Seven of the ’92 ALCS. Thank you, thank you. It’s easy for me to joke because I was seven at the time and hated sports.

8:20 – Joey Bats tees off on a Rasner cookie for a two-run bomb into the Leftfield Loonies! 5-1 Pirates just a half-inning after it was nearly 5-3 New York. That’s called a quick turnaround, boys and girls. That was a truly vicious swing from Bautista and just the kind of production the Bucs need from third base.

8:25 – Tommy Boy comes out for the fifth inning. Not that wins tell you anything much, but it’s still better than a no-decision or a loss, so I’m rooting for Gorzo to at least get through this frame. It’ll be good for his morale to see a W next to his name in the box score after all his early struggles in this game.

8:29 – One-two-three go the Yankees as Rodriguez pops out with a barrage of curse words. Turn that field mic down, stat! Perfect timing for a quick inning and maybe now we can get greedy: 6 IP for a Bucco starter not named Paul Maholm!

8:32 – The Yanks are sporting twin jersey patches: left sleeve is the All-Star Game patch, right sleeve is the “final season” Yankee Stadium commemoration.

8:35 – Ryan Doumit is not impressed by your pieces of flair! He takes an outside fastball and turns it around in a hurry, driving it over the right-centerfield fence just to the left of the Clemente Wall. Yep, he’s the real deal; that’s his 10th trot of the season and first since his recent concussion. 6-1 Buccos…then LaRoche jumps all over one! Off the top of the centerfield wall! Trip-trip-triple for Adam, his first as a Pirate.

8:36 – Wild pitch to Mientkiewicz goes to the backstop! 7-1 Pirates and I’m loving it. The New York bullpen is stirring, but the horse may already be out of the barn. Where have you gone, Big Brown?

8:41 – Greg Brown: “Come get a taste of the All-You-Can-Eat Seats at PNC Park!” I’m bypassing the “free angioplasty” joke for all of our sakes.

8:43 – Yanks at second and third with one out in the sixth after a Giambi hit by pitch and a Cano’ double to the Heinz sign in right center. Christian then promptly bounds one over the third base bag for two RBI; he is 2-for-3 in his big league debut. It’s a 7-3 ballgame and Tyler Yates is throwing in the Pirates ‘pen.

8:48 – Gorzo escapes for what should be the last time by getting two flyouts to end the sixth, stranding Sister Christian at second. I’ll be surprised if we don’t see a reliever for the top of the seventh, but then again, it is a four-run lead…

8:51 – LaTroy Hawkins into the game for New York. The Bucs have had good success against him, especially when he was the Cubs’ closer. Jack Flash fists a single to right to start things. The great and powerful Luis Rivas then pinch-hits for Gorzelanny. Good patchwork start for him, all aspects taken into account. 6 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 5 BB, 2 K and in line for the win.

8:56 – After a double play, Nate McGreat slices a double into the Notch; that’s his NL-leading 26th and the Pirates’ 12th safety of the contest. Freddy then works a 2-1 count against Hawkins but flies out to semi-deep right, five steps from the 21-foot wall for Abreu. Two-thirds of the way home and it’s 7-3 Pirates.

9:00 – Yates enters the game with a 3-point-something ERA to face Jeter, Abreu and Rodriguez. Greg and Bob comment on how the Yankees don’t have any names on the backs of their jerseys. Tradition, tradtion, blah, blah, blah. If I’m a Pirates fan, it’d be nice to know that No. 53 is Abreu without having to buy a scorecard. No. 2 doubles to bring up No. 53, who pops up for the first out. See how much that sucks?

9:05 – No. 13 grounds out on the first pitch and that’s it for Yates as Giambi steps up. If only the mustache could just play by itself. Yates is headed for the showers as I wonder how Giambi has gone from tattooed, long-haired, surfer-dude Oakland Athletic to your friend’s creepy Italian uncle in seven years.

9:10 – It’s the Dominator’s turn to play. No, not Dominik Hasek. It’s Damaso Marte! He sits down Jason “I Have Mob Ties” Giambi on a swinging third strike and the inning is over. Lefties must perish at the swift hand of the Dominator.

9:17 – JBay doubles on a hard grounder down the leftfield line, then Doumit reaches out and lines a single to right. First and third with no one out. NYY manager Joe Girardi (only man to be fired after a Manager of the Year award) calls for the infield to come in.

9:19 – La-La-LaRoche makes them pay for their futile defensive alignment by dribbling one into right. 8-3 Pirates and it’s first and third again for Mientkiewicz, who pops one to the warning track in right field for a long sacrifice fly and a six-run lead! Doug M. is in a froth upon returning to the bench. You’ve got to love his determination to squeeze every run out of a promising situation. He never makes a lazy play.

9:24 – Question for you from Jillian: If we are invited to her college friend’s wedding, do we have to in turn invite her and her new husband to our nuptials? Leave your answer in the comments so we can figure this out. Lord knows I’m clueless on this one. Two gone in the top of the eighth now as defensive replacement Nyjer Morgan gets a putout wearing his fantastic stirrup socks in leftfield. (This is now the gayest post in the history of live game diaries.) Nonetheless, the inning is over as Marte waltzes through a perfect 1 1/3 innings of relief.

9:32 – Greg brings up a report that the home plate umpire in Kansas City tonight left the game after Miguel Olivo’s bat shattered and hit him in the head. Didn’t catch the umpire’s name, but that’s about the weirdest in-game injury I’ve heard of. Chris Gomez hits for Marte and rolls one through the right side for the 16th Pirates hit of the game.

9:35 – Greg and Bob comment on how the Pirates were left for dead by many in the fan base after last week’s shellacking in Chicago at the hands of the White Sox. Yep, that’s pretty accurate. No argument from me on that one. Hard to be resilient as a fan when all you’ve seen is losing for a decade and a half. Not to make excuses, but you’ve got to state the facts.

9:43 – Hawkins couldn’t finish the eighth, so a new hurler by the name of Edwar Ramirez enters and hangs one to Morgan that the Stylish One ropes into the rightfield corner past a lead-footed Abreu. Two more runs will score! 11-3 Bucs on Morgan’s first two MLB ribbies of the season. Polish Prodigy-endorsed Ryan Doumit then jams one in the Heinz gap to plate Morgan! Greg calls the black and gold the “Bucco Bombers” and he’s right on with that assessment: five doubles and two homers tonight for Pittsburgh. LaRoche pops up, keeping the hits column at 19 for the home team. Three outs to get.

9:51 – The “rubber-armed” Franquelis Osoria will pitch the ninth as the DH debate begins in full in the FSN booth. A comment from Hank Steinbrenner is displayed in which he calls the pitcher hitting in the National League “a rule from the 1800s.” Apparently this is why Greg and Bob were telling the Yankees to “join the 21st Century” by putting names on the backs of their uniforms. Great back and forth there. That’s why I love the Pirates’ broadcasters: they know when to be irreverent and have some fun.

9:56 – Lucky deflection off of Osoria’s glove leads Jack Flash right to the second base bag for an elementary 1-6-3 double play. Jeter walks to extend New York’s misery. A pathetic Yankee fan is shown still cheering loudly for her boys. Go home and cry already.

9:58 – Abreu homers to right-center off Osoria as the Rubber-Armed One’s ERA continues to balloon. Osoria is just like Salomon Torres, except that he’s not effective in any way. Crowd getting antsy as A-Rod steps to the plate in a 12-5 game.

10:01 – RAISE THE JOLLY ROGER. Rodriguez grounds out to Bautista at third – score it 5-3 and that’s your ballgame. Gorzo gets the win and Rasner is your loser this glorious evening. The Pirates have now won two in a row against the Yankees in Pittsburgh over the last 48 years. Time for FSN Live: Pirates Edition and intrepid reporter Dan Potash, now talking live with the winning pitcher.

Thanks for hanging with me, folks, as Our Buccos are now 1-0 when I liveblog the game. Thoroughly enjoyable victory tonight as Zack Duke and Joba Chamberlain await for the second game of a three-game set. Should be fun.

Goodbye and GO BUCS.

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