On Sunday, I took The Moose to his second professional baseball game to see the Pittsburgh Pirates against the Washington Nationals. The Moose witnessed a no-hitter and near perfect game in his first game last year, so there was no way that this game could match its significance, right? Please note that this post mixes a recap of the game with my own thoughts and quotes from my five year old. For example, upon seeing Pirates first basemen John Jaso, The Moose said, "He has girl hair." Back to the game.
All-Star and former Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer, the pitcher who threw the no-hitter last season, matched up against Pirates rookie Chad Kuhl. Not an ideal match-up for the Bucs. As I know now though, DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE CHAD KUHL. All Kuhl did was throw 6 scoreless innings of one-hit baseball. More on Kuhl later. With the Pirates leading 1-0 in the bottom of the ninth, the Nationals played AC/DC's Thunderstruck as Pirates pitcher Mark Melancon warmed up. The Nats probably thought they were pumping up the crowd, but this is also Melancon's entrance music. Arguably the best closer in baseball over the past 3-4 seasons, Melancon retired the first two Nationals before All-Star and this season's best hitter, Daniel Murphy pinch hit. With a 2-2 count, Murphy did this.
And this was The Moose's reaction.
(Actually this picture came later, but seemed appropriate to go with the huge home run.)
And what was a not too exciting of a game turned very interesting. The game went on to the 10th inning and then the 11th. And the 12th. Throughout this, my friend and I discussed how long we would stay. Although we were in the shade, it was still over 90 degrees and we had three boys ages 5, 6, and 9, who we knew only had so much patience. In the middle of the 13th, there was a second Presidents race. The Moose was a bit freaked out by the giant Presidents. (Yet, when we left, he wanted to stay to see another Presidents race even though that wouldn't have happened until the 22nd inning! By the way, major props to the people in the Presidents costumes who were still there well after all beer sales ended and most food concessions closed.) And then there was the traditional 14th inning stretch! We moved our seats a few times, once in the 10th or 11th inning to get out of the sun which started hitting our backs and then to seats on the third base line about 20-25 rows from the field. Again, being in the shade was huge!
We interrupt baseball for The Moose's thoughts on Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth.
"He has a scary beard."
"That's the bad guy."
(When in the on-deck circle) "The bad guy is going to be next."
I can't disagree with any of these assessments!
We made it through the 15th inning, approximately 5 hours in the stadium, and that was it. Of the announced attendance of 32,775, we outlasted at least 20,000 people. That's a lot of baseball for three little guys. While walking to the parking lot in the 16th, we heard a loud roar. Did the Nationals have a walk-off win? Fortunately, no. As I heard on the radio, Pirates Josh Harrison hit a double, but Eric Fryer was thrown out at the plate by a perfect relay from Nats' center fielder Michael Taylor to SS Danny Espinosa to catcher Wilson Ramos.
With no traffic around the stadium and (amazingly!) on the drive back home, the 17th inning just ended when I turned off the radio. A few minutes later, I turned on the TV to see that the Pirates were ahead 2-1. WHAT HAPPENED? Starling Marte happened:
Jon Niese gave up two hits in the bottom of the 18th, but struck out Espinosa to give the Pirates the win. A few more thoughts about the game:
- Including Sunday, Chad Kuhl has started four baseball games. He pitched against probably the best pitcher in baseball Clayton Kershaw, the May 2016 AL pitcher of the month and should have been all star Rich Hill, three-time all star Jon Lester and now Scherzer. The Pirates are now 4-0 in his starts. Can he start against some below average pitchers some time?
- When I was in college, I had an internship with a Pittsburgh-area Congressman. We also had an office softball team and played against a local fire department twice (and against a Senator's staff too...we destroyed them). Anyway, I annoyed many of the firefighters for constantly getting on base in our games. I was not a power hitter, yet I managed to get hits through seeing-eye singles or balls that landed between the infielders and outfielders. Why do I mention this? Pirates rookie Adam Frazier is me 20 years later. (Well, at least in this analogy.) When you look at the Pirates line-up, teams are going to be concerned with Marte, McCutchen, Freese, Harrison, Mercer, and others. Yet, Frazier went 3 for 6 Sunday with two walks. For the season, he's now hitting .355 with a .412 on-base percentage. He must be such a pest for opponents.
- The Moose's thoughts on National's 23 year-old Trea Turner: "He is a kid."
So The Moose has now been to two games, one a no-hitter and the other went 18 innings. He's going to be disappointed someday when we attend a regular 4-2 game!
Want to know more about the game? Here's the recap from The Washington Post, ESPN, Bucs Dugout, and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.