Saturday, September 28, 2019

Cincinnati Reds 5 at Pittsburgh Pirates 6 - September 27, 2019


With so little left to chase, I am now looking for trips where I can add just one new venue as long as there are other games in the vicinity. Such was the case this past weekend in Pittsburgh, where there were four teams playing in four venues in four sports within 26 hours. The first game was on Friday evening, where the Pittsburgh Pirates were hosting the Cincinnati Reds in a meaningless weekend set to end the season. I flew out of LaGuardia on Friday morning and landed in Pittsburgh just an hour later. I was able to snap a shot of downtown, in which you can see 3 of those 4 venues.



The Pirates call PNC Park home and I was surprised to see that I have never discussed this ballpark on the blog. It was my favourite venue during my 2001 season-long baseball road trip, and I visited again in 2008 for the Jays, but had not been back since. So I took the time to tour it again and snap a few pictures.



Pittsburgh has a transit system known as the T-Line that is free to use downtown and on the North Shore, where the ballpark lies. The nearest stop is suitably named North Side, but I advise getting off two stops before at Wood Street and walking over the Clemente Bridge (above). There are great views of the ballpark from the other side of the Allegheny.



Upon arriving at the center field gate, you will see the statue of Roberto Clemente, which was first dedicated in 1994, seven years before PNC Park opened.



Walk another minute to the left field gate, where Willie Stargell is honoured (below). There are two more statues (Honus Wagner and Bill Mazeroski) outside, so you need to walk all the way around to see all four.



There are banners for the current Pirates, none of whom will ever receive a statue, along the exterior of the stadium. Melky Cabrera is the only familiar name I found, mostly because I never watch the Pirates on TV.



Inside, there are more sculptures, including one of Ralph Kiner's hands holding a bat (below) that sits behind the center field fence.



Nearby is a replica of the spacesuit that Neil Armstrong wore to the moon back in 1969. This is part of Apollo at the Park, where 15 ballparks housed these interactive suits for the latter half of the season. This particular suit will be moved to the Heinz History Center now that the season is over.



The view of the seating bowl from center field. The park doesn't look any different from this vantage point.



It is only as you move around that you begin to see the unique features, such as the outside ramp and its decorative roof in the left field corner.



Behind the right field seats is the Riverwalk, which provides views of the river directly below. There have been four splash homers in the history of the ballpark, including one by Josh Bell this season.



You can begin to see the skyline as you walk along the open concourse towards first base.



Looking to the left for a bit, you can see how the seats curve toward the diamond in left field.



And finally, the best view in sports. The scoreboard is perfectly positioned in left field to allow for the skyline to be seen in all its grandeur.



I ended up with a seat between home and first, which is not ideal to see the view. If you are there for multiple games, the upper deck along third base is a good place to sit for one game at least, just to enjoy the full skyline.



Back in 2001, PNC Park and Pac Bell Park (now Oracle Park) in San Francisco were my top two ballparks and that has not changed despite several new stadiums arriving in the meantime. Location, ease of access via public transit, a good neighbourhood with plenty of bars, and incredible views are common to both these venues; PNC remains number one due to its affordability. Visit if you haven't already.

The Game

The Reds scored a couple in the first and added two more in the 5th before Kevin Newman hit a 3-run homer in the bottom of the 5th to bring the Pirates within one. The Bucs tied it an inning later when Erik Gonzalez lined out to Jose Peraza, who threw to first to try to double off Jacob Stallings. The ball hit Stallings' foot and bounced away, allowing Kevin Kramer to score from third. The Reds made it 5-4 when Michael Lorenzen (who started at CF, pitched two scoreless innings, and returned to CF) singled home Jose Iglesias in the top of the 8th. Still leading by one, the Reds brought in Raul Iglesias for the save. He promptly gave up a single to Jake Elmore followed by a wild pitch. Gonzalez grounded back to Iglesias, and then Cabrera grounded to first to move Elmore to third. Newman came to the plate needing a single to tie it, but he didn't want extras, instead mashing his second dinger of the evening over the left field fence to win the game for the Pirates. Raise the Jolly Roger!



It was Iglesias' 12th loss with just 67 IP - no other pitcher in MLB history has lost that many games while tossing so few innings. This is a record that you will not see hyped on the MLB.com homepage; in fact I think I am the only person to notice it. So I saw baseball history!



You can see Iglesias' 3-12 record in the game summary above. Newman was the only Pirate with RBIs as the other run, scored by Kramer, was on an error. Yes, Newman and Kramer are on the same team, so Seinfeld has some other options when he does his reboot with Pete Alonso.

Notes

There were fireworks after the game that were launched from a barge on the river. Quite impressive as they reflected off the downtown buildings while the explosions reverberated and well worth staying around for.



Best,

Sean

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