PITTSBURGH — There is sports as an announcement of borough pride, and there is what happened actuality Tuesday night, aback 40,487 Yinzers pulled on atramentous T-shirts and atramentous jackets and atramentous jerseys — so abounding of them purchased aloof this summer — and took allotment in a accumulation ablution two decades in the making. Aback the Pittsburgh Pirates were alien at PNC Park above-mentioned to their Civic League wild-card playoff game, the foremost amid them angry to the crowd, affected their hearts and bidding their acknowledgment for the support, defective for so long.
Then the centermost fielder’s mother accursed out the civic canticle — her son, presumptive NL MVP Andrew McCutchen, hat-over-heart adjacent — and the abode aloof came unhinged. One night doesn’t alter two decades of accident — worse, of irrelevance — and the Pirates’ absolute 6-2 achievement over the Cincinnati Reds doesn’t instantly affectation the scars that abide from all that preceded it, conspicuously and acutely a accident in the seventh bold of the 1992 NL Championship Series. But it doesn’t hurt. No, it does not hurt.
“If our burghal anytime acquainted they don’t accomplish a difference,” Manager Clint Hurdle said, “all they accept to do is attending at the band from tonight’s game.”
The Pirates rocked Reds right-hander Johnny Cueto with second-inning homers from Marlon Byrd (the above National) and Russell Martin, accustomed seven lockdown innings from baleful lefty Francisco Liriano and acclimated Martin’s additional adjudicator of the night to drive the point home in the seventh, aberration surrounding it all.
Thus, Pittsburgh animated that the summer it refamiliarized itself with acceptable baseball will be connected — and for a bit. The wild-card win over the Reds brings a best-of-five analysis alternation adjoin St. Louis that starts Thursday, and it ensures at atomic one added actualization for these Pirates at their admirable ballpark forth the Allegheny River, connected one of baseball’s best venues, aback one of baseball’s best environments.
“It’s afflicted the ability of what baseball is in this boondocks — and was,” said afterpiece Jason Grilli, who blithely and playfully thumped Martin’s chest afterwards he recorded the final out. “This is what everybody talked about. To accept a duke in it is appealing special. It’s humbling. . . . You can’t airing bottomward the artery afterwards bodies accepting crazy about the Pirates. It’s article to see.”
Tuesday night was article to see. Aback Cueto looked afraid aboriginal — he able the aboriginal admitting acceptance hard, abysmal band drives to Neil Walker and Justin Morneau — the army pounced. The chants of “Cue-to! Cue-to!” came apace afterwards Byrd belted a change-up out to larboard to accessible the second. Aback Martin followed him to the bowl an out later, the carol continued. Cueto, aggravating to get acclimatized not alone in the bold but artlessly on the rubber, alone the ball. As it formed above the grass, he couldn’t adumbrate from the complete of his own name.
“I’ve never apparent a army absolutely get to the bullpen area he drops the ball,” Martin said. “The abutting angle was — I don’t know. He fabricated a aberration with the abutting pitch.”
And Martin deposited it into the left-center acreage seats. A 2-0 advance somehow acquainted like 10-0, in allotment because of the atmosphere. “I’ve never apparent it like this,” said Byrd, an August accretion from the Mets.
From there, it fell into place. McCutchen listened to his mother Petrina collection all the boxy addendum in the “Star-Spangled Banner,” again accomplished abject four times. The Pirates collection a ashamed Cueto from the bold in the fourth afterwards he accustomed seven hits, four for added bases. And Liriano disconnected the Reds, backward the aboriginal nine men he faced and authoritative left-handers who dared access the box attending foolish. He gave up four hits and a run, absolved one and addled out five.
“If you watched this one bold tonight,” Grilli said, “it appealing abundant showcased what Liriano’s done all year long.”
Such a new activity for Pittsburgh, to put a bullpen on the bank and a aggregation on the acreage in which the absolute boondocks can accept confidence. In the clamor that preceded the aboriginal pitch, a video montage played on the scoreboard in larboard acreage with bodies about the burghal captivation up signs address black-and-yellow letters: We Believe. Afterwards 20 beeline accident seasons, it somehow fabricated sense.
“We didn’t allocution about one and done,” Hurdle said. “We talked about one and run — one and run to St. Louis.”
That’s what awaits these new Pirates. As baseball’s acknowledgment to appliance in Pittsburgh has become baseball’s best story, the jerseys on the backs of those who filed in Tuesday were those of McCutchen and Grilli, Alvarez and Burnett. Clemente and Stargell, Mazeroski and Parker — they all accept their abode here, but for the aboriginal time in a generation, their abode was in the past.
The Steelers are uncharacteristically 0-4. The boats that abounding the river above the appropriate acreage bank partied on a absolute night. The ballpark pulsed with new heroes, new adventure lines. The Pirates are aback and can backpack the town.
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