What a night to be at the ballpark! For those of you not from Pittsburgh, PNC Park is THE most incredible place to watch a baseball game, according this extremely biased reviewer. And while there’s nothing wrong with a good ol’ hot summer evening — and I’m sure we will have plenty of those — I’m a big fan of cool weather, and for me, this was pretty damn close to perfection. Mrs. Bagger was a little concerned about getting rained out but the forecast only called for a scattered shower (which we had for about 5 minutes). What we did get was a great show with some spectacular moments. Oh, a they played a baseball game, too. Here are the Baggers. I emailed this pic into the stadium as instructed and it ended up on the jumbotron between innings late in the game.
My yellow-tinted computer glasses are currently my only non-broken pair of reading glasses. But the color scheme works, while also giving me a sort of John Lennon mystique, don’t you think? Mrs. Bagger with her scarf. Always channeling Coco Channel and Audrey Hepburn, that one. As the temps went down, though, that scarf became more than just a fashion accessory. We look like a couple of aging hippies.
With a rather sparse crowd in attendance, and the Nats coming to bat, I decided to wander down to the right field corner to check out the new Bowtie Bar, the Budwiser-themed bar they installed into a rather wasted space in that part of the park. I’ve gotta say, it was bigger than I imagined. Here’ s a shot looking at the bar with the playing field — and the private party — in the background.
Yes, now you can attend a Pirates game and also watch the NBA playoffs, or hockey, or The Voice, I guess. They had large portable fire heaters up there, too, but I guess it wasn’t cold enough to get those bad boys humming. Looking out the back of the bar, you get a great view up the river.
I didn’t stay for long because when I’m at a ballgame I actually like to, you know, watch the game. Plus, some incredible clouds were moving in.
This was from the aisle right outside the bar. Check out those clouds. As ominous as they seemed, you could tell that they weren’t going to do much. First, they were moving too fast to do any damage. And second, they were too low and unorganized. But they were great to look at.
What followed was a great show in the sky, as well as an ever-changing light show projected on the skyline. I couldn’t help it. Every 5 minutes the view completely shifted in shape and color, and I kept taking pictures of it. The clouds were roiling above, the setting sun was peaking through behind us and reflecting off the buildings, changing shades like a kaleidoscope, and then, finally, a pink glow stretched across the once dark gray cumulus as some sort of grand finale. My iPhone doesn’t do the colors justice, but it did okay. Enjoy the show; we sure did.
Nice, right? It made the baseball game more interesting, too. The wind was constantly swirling around, batter by batter. For one hitter the flags were blowing straight in. The very next hitter they were pointing to the right field bleachers. Then, three pitches later, they were blowing out. I couldn’t believe the flags didn’t end up completely wrapped around the poles.
The game was typical Pirates. Newly acquired Erik Bedard mowed the Nats down in 5 pitches in the first inning. But three pitches into the second inning, he was bent over with back spasms. Thus, it was a 5-man bullpen by committee for the rest of the game. The Buccos scratched across three runs in the third inning in extremely lucky fashion. It involved a dropped third strike that allowed our pitcher to take first base. There was an error, a walk, and some dribbling ground balls that eeked their way into the outfield. I almost felt bad for their pitcher because he should have been out of the inning. I almost felt bad for him. I got over it. After that inning, the Pirate offense predictably shut down. But our relief pitchers did just enough. We even shut down their rookie phenom, Bryce Harper (0-3, walk), although he made two great plays in the field to rob us of doubles. Yamaico Navarro made a great catch over the wall in left field to take away a home run. It felt like they constantly had multiple people on base and were about to break the game open, but we always got that key strikeout or pop up at just the right moment.
With us winning 3-2 in the 8th, Bucco pitcher Jason Grilli loaded the bases with 1 out. It looked bleak, but then he reached back for two strikeouts. It was also a typical game because Andrew McCutchen carried our offense. In the bottom of the 8th, already 3 for 3 on the day, Cutch went deep over the 383 ft. marker in left to give us that crucial two-run cushion. Hammer time in the ninth was nervous time. Hanrahan had blown a save the night before and his grandmother had just passed away, so he was emotional. He allowed two base runners in the ninth just to raise our blood pressure before striking out the final batter for a rather ugly Bucco win. Raise the Jolly Roger!
Hey, there will be plenty of ugly losses down the road, so don’t look down your nose at the occasional ugly win. That’s two in a row over the first place team in the East. They’ve got Strausburg on the mound on Thursday. But the Pirates have already won the series. And two tired Baggers had to scurry home because they both had to work in the morning.