- Two consecutive 2-1 losses last Saturday and Sunday to the Padres. Trevor Hoffman tied Lee Smith's saves record Saturday and broke it on Sunday. I am happy for him, but did not enjoy the conclusion of a lousy west coast trip that had started promising. I was able to watch very little of these two games, so I will not comment any further.
- The Pirates returned home to host the red-hot Astros on Tuesday. Houston was in the midst of an incredible surge upward in the standings that would eventually fall a bit short. I attended this game, and found only a bit to enjoy throughout the evening. The second inning was fun, as Bay and Bautista launched a couple of pitches well into the bleachers to briefly tie the game. Also Freddy had a typical four hit, two double night to take firm control of the batting race. Other than that, just your typical 7-4 loss.
- I was in attendance for Wednesday's game as well. This one started in a very promising manner, with Freddy bringing Duffy home with a first inning single (here's hoping we get to say that every day in 2007), Doumit ripping a second inning pitch over the centerfield fence, one more coming home in the third, and three runs scoring as the result of an Xavier Nady single in the fifth. Also, Shawn Chacon had quietly allowed just a sac fly through five innings and we were holding a strong 6-1 lead. But it all fell apart in the sixth, as Shawn Chacon ran out of gas after looking dominant just an inning before. The lead was cut to 6-5, and the Astros were able to scratch a run across against Torres in the ninth to tie it. And a game that was already dragging was extended several innings. I had to wake at 5 the next morning and the game did not end until after midnight. Plus, this was a game the Pirates had no right losing after our early lead. But I love extra-inning games way too much not to enjoy the night. There's just something exciting about being one of the last thousand fans remaining in the park as the game goes longer and longer. 14th inning stretches are great. I was on the scoreboard twice, since there was no inning-break entertainment planned and nobody else was really left to be shown. Yes, we lost. yes, I slept through the alarm in the morning. Yes, Freddy's two early hits were cancelled out a bit by extra at-bats. Yes, Houston did not give him a chance to win it, employing the intentional walk tactic. But I still had a blast.
- I was at work on Thursday and could not watch the game. It sounded as if Gorzelanny was throwing well, but all three hits that he allowed came in the fifth inning and three runs came across also. Oswalt shut us down and that was that.
- I was unable to watch the game again on Friday, and do not know much about what happened. Freddy had a couple of hits and the infield turned a slick double play. The losing streak is at eight.
- I went to the game on Saturday, and the losing streak ended. This one only lasted about 2 hours 20 minutes despite a 13 minute rain delay thrown in. McLeary either pitched well or the Reds saw that they had been eliminated from the playoffs and quit trying. Either way, a shutout is a good thing everytime. The Bucs got a couple of clutch hits from Paulino and Bautista, and Torres got the save to pull within one appearance of Tekulve's record. Freddy went 0-4 and will enter the final day of the season leading the batting race by only 3 points. It should be exciting.
- Sunday's game flew by also. Shane Youman looked pretty sharp (hard to tell from sec 210, but seven shutout innings is a decent measurement and he was breaking bats all game). Despite Youman's performance, Nady's three hits-including the game winner, and Torres tying Tekulve's record, this day belonged entirely to Freddy Sanchez. With thousands chanting his name, he calmly singled in his first two at-bats to clinch the batting title. While Miguel Cabrera took the rest of the day off after K'ing twice and losing any chance of coming back in the race, Freddy continued playing his heart out as the Pirates defeated the Reds 1-0. After Freddy's second hit, he was given a standing ovation while standing on first base. Eventually he gave in to the crowd and briefly raised his helmet to the crowd. The Post-Gazette compared that moment to Roberto Clemente acknowledging the crowd after hit number 3000. The tribute to Freddy after the game, while a bit dramatic, was great, and I was glad to be there for it.
In home games that I attended this season, the Pirates were 11-14. In two away games, they were 0-2. Wait 'til next year.