By: Jim Tsapelas
The two best teams in MLB the Pittsburgh Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals met Monday in the first game of a three game series at PNC Park. Not only are the Pirates and Cardinals the two best teams of the 2015 MLB season, they are also two of the more classy organizations in professional sports.
In what can be best described as an initial carnival like playoff atmosphere at PNC Park, came to a crashing then reverenced silence when the Cardinals’ Peter Bourjos and Stephen Piscotty collided when attempting to catch a ball off the bat of the Pirates’ Josh Hamilton; in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Bourjos immediately waved with intensity for someone to come to the outfield and check on Piscotty. Bourjos and Piscotty, who were both tracking Hamilton’s ball, collided as Bourjos caught the ball.
While catching the ball, Bourjos ran into Piscotty. Bourjos’s knee connected with Piscotty’s head. For a protracted period of time, Piscotty did not move. Piscotty lay on the outfield grass as Cardinal personnel and Pirates’ team physicians attempted to assess the extent of his injuries.
Piscotty was placed on a stretcher and driven off the field by members of the Pirates’ ground crew. Piscotty was taken to a Pittsburgh area hospital for observation and treatment.
The Cardinals issued a statement which said Piscotty had received a head contusion. During the sixteen minutes it took to assess and assist Piscotty from the field, the once loud and enthusiastic crowd maintained complete silence. As the motorized vehicle left the field the Pirates’ faithful stood and clapped in honor of Piscotty.
The three game series is of critical and vital importance to both the Cards and the Pirates. Monday night’s contest was a scoreless tie until the top of the ninth.
In the ninth, with the Pirates’ Mark Melancon on the hill, the Cardinals scored three runs. The Cardinals’ Matt Carpenter scored on a fielding error by Gregory Polanco; on a ball put into play by Jon Jay. Next Mark Reynolds hit his thirteen home run of the season, also scoring Jay.
The Pirates refused to go away quietly. With Cardinal closer Trevor Rosenthal on the mound, the Pirates got the game’s possible tying run to the plate. Rosenthal, who earned the loss in his immediate past two game experiences, needed twenty-five pitches to close out the home-half of the ninth. Andrew McCutchen began the ninth with a walk. Starling Marte singled on a line-drive to right; moving McCutchen to second. Pirates’ second-baseman Neil Walker struck out swinging. Pittsburgh catcher Francisco Cervelli lined out to right. The final batter, representing the possible tying run at the plate, pinch-hitter Aramis Ramirez-batting for Sean Rodriguez, lines out to Cardinals’ first-baseman Mark Reynolds for the final out.
Cardinals’ starter Lance Lynn (12-10) labored through five innings of work. Lynn allowed four hits, walked four, and struck out six. Lynn threw ninety-five pitches in his five innings; of which fifty-six were for strikes. Collectively, the Cardinal pitchers issued a total of ten walks to the Pirates.
Pittsburgh starter J.A. Happ (6-2) worked six innings, allowed one hit, and struck out four. Happ threw just fifty-six pitches; forty-three of which were for strikes. The Pirates issued just one walk to the Cardinals. It would appear that Happ shall be an asset to the Pirates in the post-season.
The Cardinals’ Jonathan Broxton (4-5) picks up the win. Cardinal closer Trevor Rosenthal established a new single season franchise record for saves by earning his forty-eighth save of the season. The prior record of forty-seven saves is shared by Lee Smith and Jason Isringhausen.
The Pirates’ Mark Melancon (3-2) gets the loss.
The Cardinals’ win reduces their Magic Number to two. Any combination of Cardinals wins or Pirates losses equaling two will give the NL Central Division Crown to St. Louis.
Tuesday these two teams meet in the second game of this three game set. The Redbirds send Michael Wacha (17-6) to the hill to meet the Pirates’ Charlie Morton (9-8) at PNC Park.
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