Isn't it amazing how a great game like this one can grab your attention even after a seemingly interminable span of ugly baseball? Down 2-0 in the sixth inning, I was already slipping in to "wander away from the computer, try to get back in front of it to catch McCutchen, Tabata, Walker, and Alvarez bat" mode. Then Andrew McCutchen doubled, Jose Tabata tripled, and Neil Walker singled and the game was tied. Not something I was exactly expecting against Adam Wainwright.
Suddenly a few minutes later, Joel Hanrahan's in the game in the seventh inning with they tying run on base and Albert Pujols at the plate and I'm riveted to the computer screen. I said in the past that I liked not naming a closer because it allows JR to use Hanrahan in situations just like this one and to his credit, he yanked Maholm not because he was pitching poorly (he wasn't by a long shot, he got 19 groundballs and just two flyballs tonight) but because Hanrahan was the pitcher to use in the situation.
And Hanrahan got Pujols to pop out and suddenly the Pirates were rallying for two more runs against Wainwright with a double by Ronny Cedeno followed by more big at-bats by Jose Tabata (two-out walk and then a stolen base) and Neil Walker (two more RBIs with the two-run single). Toss in an eventful ninth inning in which Evan Meek put two runners on for Pujols, nearly induced a game-ending double play. Instead Pedro Alvarez misplayed the ball into a single and only a heads up Ronny Cedeno play kept the game from being tied. Meek disposed of Matt Holliday and Felipe Lopez quickly, and I realized I was quite literally seated on the very edge of my chair like this game was being played in mid-October or something.
I do realize how sad that probably sounds, but I only mean to say that every once in a while, this team is capable of playing some good, interesting baseball. Tabata and Walker were the ones that came up with huge hits tonight and Maholm, Hanrahan, and Meek were mostly excellent in shutting down the Cardinals' lineup save Holliday's homer in the first and the hiccup in the ninth. It doesn't mean much in the grand scheme of things, but a decent amount of this Pirate lineup is the future Pirate lineup and frankly, it's just really good to see them have a good night every once in a while.