Foul Tip…Autumn Leaves

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Man oh, man oh, man. When I arrived at PNC Park Saturday night for the Pirates, Cardinals game, the weather convinced me that autumn leaves were going to be falling, sooner than later and the timeless chant, “here we go Steelers, here we go” and a genuine NFL football game would break out any moment; complete with fur coats accompanied by a few “flasks” filled to capacity with Grand Marnier.

I briefly thought that I was in the wrong ball yard. This was Heinz Field weather because it was quite nippy even without the wind chill.

Anyway on Saturday my primary concern was the lack of offensive production provided for Pirates pitcher Francisco Liriano during his strong opening day performance versus the Chicago Cubs and would that lack of offense continue possibly wasting another strong pitching performance by Liriano. Another thing that concerned me was that the Buc’s had put the Cardinals on their “catch” of the day list the night before roasting the “Redbirds” on the PNC rotisserie by the score of 12-2.

The over abundance of runs that the Pirates scored this past Friday was in itself a vast misrepresentation regarding their normal offensive production.

One of the things that I observed about Pittsburgh before the Saturday evening game was that the Pirates appeared to be just a bit tired from the abnormal amount of base running the team did the previous evening, plus the Cardinals seemed to be just a bit ticked off at being brutalized by the 12-2 thumping.

See folks, the real saying that the Cardinals believe in is not, “if you can’t beat em, join em.” No guys’ and dolls’ the bad boys from St. Louis have their own version of the old saying, it goes something like this; “if you can’t beat em the first time, use a bigger stick.”

After Saturdays’ game the Pirates were scheduled to play the Cardinals 18 more times, 10 at Busch stadium and 9 at PNC Park.

Liriano battled Cardinals 3rd baseman Matt Carpenter before hit a soft single to shallow left center field. He went 3-0 on Jhonny Peralta before walking him. Now remember 1st and 2nd with nobody out facing leftfielder Matt Holliday usually does not mean good things and it wasn’t. Holliday promptly singled in Carpenter.

The Cardinals sent 8 men to the plate in the 1st inning! Liriano threw a slew of pitches and gave up 3 runs in the first inning!

See folks never disturb a sleeping giant unless you have an AK-47 with ample ammo and a few rocket propelled grenades to back you up. You cannot give up 3 runs to the defending NL Champions and expect positive results.

You can put an asterisk by the Pirates 12-2 score from the night before because it is not the norm for the Pirates to score 12 runs or for the Cardinals to score 2.

Hey “yinzers” one of the elements that sets “habitual winners” like St. Louis from those who occasionally get to stand in the winner’s circle is this…The Cardinals, their fans or their city don’t get too giddy and hyped when they win a few games in a row and they don’t cry too easily in their Budweiser when they embark on a small winning streak, because when winning is the status quo, losing a few doesn’t cause you to have to take a treadmill stress test.

The Pirates lost 6-1. Francisco Liriano is 0-1 and he should be 2-0. Saves are important but so are wins.

Now the rubber match on Sunday afternoon represented a measure of character for the youthful Pirates squad. However, credit must be given where credit is due.

Cardinals right hander Adam Wainwright who usually gives the Pirates fits was due to face Pittsburgh right hander Edinson Volquez who earlier in the week had pitched 2 innings in relief against the Chicago Cubs but that brief stint before filling his normal slot in the rotation didn’t seem to affect Volquez at all.

The games was scoreless until the 4th when Pittsburgh broke through with a run and St. Louis scored their 1st run in the top of the 6th. The Pirates answered with a run in the bottom of the 7th and that was the ballgame.

With great defense and an even greater pitching rotation, if the Pirates can average 4 runs a game and remain healthy, they may possibly win 100 games or more.

Aubrey Bruce is the Senior Sports Columnist for The New Pittsburgh Courier and can be reached at: abruce@newpittsburghcourier.com or 412.583.6741412.583.6741

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