MLB Memory Lane – September 10, 2007

I went to a lot of baseball games before I started working in baseball.  MLB Memory Lane is a look back at some of those games.

This week, the most frustrating game I have ever attended in my life.

Date: September 10, 2007
Teams: Milwaukee Brewers and Pittsburgh Pirates
Stadium: PNC Park, Pittsburgh
Seat Location: Lower deck behind home plate
With: No one

It was my tradition a few years ago to go on a long car trip at the end of the Timber Rattlers season.  I would get in the car and drive with no real destination in mind.*

In 2007, I went north.  Then, I went east.  My trip took me to through Sault Ste. Marie, to the Canadian capital of Toronto kidding…Ottawa, through Vermont past Castleton College, to Cooperstown, Scranton, and Shanksville.

It was just coincidence that the Pirates happened to be home against the Brewers on September 10.  I was going to go to this game.

This may come as a shock, but there were decent tickets available for this game.  The Brewers were in first place in the NL Central – one game up on the Chicago Cubs – with a 73-69 record.  Pittsburgh was 63-80 and in 5th place.

I found a decent parking spot and walked across the bridge to get to the stadium:

The walk to PNC Park is great.

The walk to PNC Park is great.

Then, statues of legends.  Not just Pirates legends.  Baseball Immortals:

Roberto Clemente!

Roberto Clemente!

Willie Stargell!

Willie Stargell!

This may come as a shock, but I walked up to the window on the day of the game at PNC Park without a ticket and for $25 this is where I got to sit:

Shhh.  You can almost hear Ned Yost and Jim Tracy discussing WAR and FIP.

Shhh. You can almost hear Ned Yost and Jim Tracy discussing WAR and FIP.

The pitching matchup?  Carlos Villanueva for the Brewers against Tony Armas, Jr. for the Pirates.   PLAY BALL!  Well, first I had to go get a gyro from the one of the concession stands on the third base side.  Then, it was PLAY BALL!

Both teams had a pair of hits in the second inning, but neither team scored in that frame.  The game was scoreless until the bottom of fifth.

Nyjer Morgan started the rally with a one out double.  (Oh, T-Plush, how could you?) Nate McClouth was next and he homered to right field and the Pirates were up 2-0.

Villanueva, who was making his third start of the season, was due up to leadoff the top of the sixth.  Ned sent Laynce Nix up to pinch-hit for Villanueva to start something.  Armas retired Nix on a grounder.  Armas also retired Rickie Weeks and Gabe Gross on grounders for a 1-2-3 sixth inning.

Here’s Matt Wise to keep it close in the bottom of the sixth.

Bautista singled to left; Pearce struck out; Paulino singled to center [Bautista to second]; Wilson singled to shortstop [Bautista to third, Paulino to second]; PHELPS BATTED FOR ARMAS; Phelps forced Wilson (third to second) [Bautista scored, Paulino scored (error by Weeks) (unearned) (no RBI), Phelps to second]; SHOUSE REPLACED WISE (PITCHING); Morgan struck out; 2 R (1 ER), 3 H, 1 E, 1 LOB. Brewers 0, Pirates 4.

*sigh*

In the top of the seventh Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder were both retired by Franquelis Osoria. Corey Hart reached on a bunt single, but Geoff Jenkins lined out to center.

Brian Shouse, who came on to get the last out of the Pirate half of the sixth, came out to the mound after the stretch:

PIRATES 7TH: McLouth singled to left; McLouth stole second; F. Sanchez singled to right [McLouth to third]; LaRoche singled to right [McLouth scored, F. Sanchez to second]; MCCLUNG REPLACED SHOUSE (PITCHING); Bautista struck out; Pearce singled to left [F. Sanchez scored, LaRoche to second]; Paulino doubled to center [LaRoche scored, Pearce to third]; Wilson out on a sacrifice fly to right [Pearce scored, Paulino to third]; Osoria was called out on strikes; 4 R, 5 H, 0 E, 1 LOB. Brewers 0, Pirates 8.

*sigh*

I am pretty sure that rigth around the time Seth McClung came into the ballgame was when this happened:

Grrrrr.  I mean Yaaaarrrrrrghhhh!

Grrrrr. I mean Yaaaarrrrrrghhhh!

It wasn’t even the cool mascot. You know? The Parrot. It was this guy.

I stuck around for the whole game, which included Greg Aquino giving up an RBI double to Adam LaRoche in the bottom of the eighth inning for a 9-0 Pirates lead.

The Brewers went down in order in the top of the ninth and I was heading out on the road to somewhere in Ohio to spend the night.

Milwaukee managed just four hits in the game, didn’t draw any walks, and played one of their worst games of 2007. Plus, the Cubs pummeled the Cardinals 12-3 at Wrigley Field that afternoon. That meant Milwaukee and Chicago were tied for the NL Central lead with identical 73-70 records with 19 games left in the season.

Starting Lineups:

   Milwaukee Brewers             Pittsburgh Pirates       
1. Weeks               2b        Morgan              cf
2. Gross               rf        McLouth             lf
3. Braun               3b        F. Sanchez          2b
4. Fielder             1b        LaRoche             1b
5. Hart                cf        Bautista            3b
6. Jenkins             lf        Pearce              rf
7. Estrada             c         Paulino             c
8. Hardy               ss        Wilson              ss
9. Villanueva          p         Armas               p

NOTES:
Prince Fielder: 1-for-3
Ryan Braun: 0-for-4
Geoff Jenkins: 0-for-3

Results aside, PNC Park is a beautiful stadium.  I highly recommend it as a stop if you want to catch a Brewers game on the road.  Plus, GYROS!

I will retrace this journey one day.  Except I would make my sit-com visit to Pawnee, Indiana and my MST3K visit to Merrill, Wisconsin (Packers! Whooooo!).

Retrosheet.org Boxscore
Baseball Reference WPA Chart

*-The case can be made that this tradition started as a way to fulfill the post-Vietnam dreams of John Rambo and Ortega: Me and Ortega used to talk about getting a big caddy after the war, ya know, and cruise ’till the wheels fell off. One day we were in town and this little kid comes up to Ortega and says, Shine Sir? Shine? and the box was wired….there were pieces of Ortega all over the street, sir…...….. Sorry. I have something in my eye…..probably just dust……probably….Now, I want to watch First Blood again.

Past MLB Memory Lane entries:
Rally against The Eck & Walkoff the A’s (1989)

Dennis Lamp near no-hitter (1981)

Teddy & Team Streak (1987)

Chester Marcol steals the show (1980)

Nolan Ryan at Wrigley (1987)

Larry Hisle beats Louisiana Lightning (1978)

Bonds, Kent, Burks ruin my dad’s 60th birthday (1999)

Doubleheader against Yaz & the Red Sox (1977)

Rockie Mountain Way (1999)

Wrigley in September (1985)

Dan Plesac frustrates us (1991)

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