God knows that when “Don’t Stop Believin'” by Journey became the unofficial theme song of the 2013 Pittsburgh Pirates, I wanted to jump off a bridge. But tonight, not even awful music can ruin my mood.
I’ll be honest. I had absolutely no idea what I was walking into tonight. After all, I have never experienced this in my adult life. The good thing was that I didn’t think too much about the game. I worked until 6:30, came home and worked out and then took a shower. That took me right up until game time. Which was perfect because actually having time to sit and think about this game would have made me a nervous wreck.
Johnny Cueto started for the Reds with a history of dominating the Pirates. And though the Bucs didn’t score in the first inning, you could tell that Cueto wasn’t on his game. He gave up two loud outs in the first. That turned into home runs in the second. Marlon Byrd hit a home run in his first postseason at bat of his career. Later in the inning, Russell Martin hit his first of two home runs in the game. Cueto would also give up a sacrifice fly to Pedro Alvarez in the third inning before being removed from the game with one out in the fourth.
Sean Marshall didn’t have much better luck. Neil Walker drove in a run with a double. Another run came home in the inning when Brandon Phillips bobbled what should have been a double play ball. Francisco Liriano was lights out for the Pirates. He threw seven innings while only allowing one run on a single by Jay Bruce in the fourth inning. He even added a base hit. The only other Reds run in the game came on a solo home run by Shin-Soo Choo off of Tony Watson in the eighth inning.
Player of the Game: Russell Martin
It’s really hard to say that Liriano wasn’t the player of the game but what Martin did tonight was unbelievable. I even distinctly remember during the pregame show, the panel on TBS stating that hits by Martin were acceptable as long as Cueto didn’t let Andrew McCutchen beat him. WRONG! Martin had three hits in the game and two of them left the ballpark. The second one that he hit was absolutely obliterated. And when it comes to Liriano, he also provided his usual great defense and called a great game behind the plate.
Play of the Game: The Tenth Man
Bandwagon fans? Fans from other cities want to call the 40,000 people at PNC Park bandwagon fans? That’s fine by me. Every team on the planet has bandwagon fans. You’re not special. In any case, those “bandwagon” fans created an environment that I have never seen at a baseball park before. The blackout looked awesome on TV and the energy was insane. Every strike was granted by a standing ovation. When Cueto started to struggle in the second inning, a “Cueto” chant broke out and clearly had the Reds pitcher rattled. He even dropped the ball on the mound. He wanted nothing to do with that atmosphere. Getting just one win in St. Louis would be huge to make sure that they would have to deal with that for two games.
Up Next: NLDS, St. Louis Cardinals
Another division rival will be the next opponent for the Pirates. The game will be on Thursday at 5:07pm which is pretty awful for my work schedule. Friday’s start time is even worse. Starting pitcher’s haven’t been officially announced yet. However, Clint Hurdle stated in his postgame interview that A.J. Burnett would get the ball in game one.