The room was quiet as LaRoche stepped into the box. I think we were worn out, as a rollercoaster game was drifting towards its conclusion. With LaRoche still trapped in his usual early season slump and a tough lefty on the mound, we silently doubted our chances. When LaRoche lifted a fastball high and deep to right, I hesitated. I assumed I had misjudged the trajectory of the ball off the bat. But it I had not. FSN’s camera panned toward the right field foul pole and caught a glimpse of the baseball sailing onto Eutaw Street. Shouts of joy erupted around me, as LaRoche calmly trotted around the bases. Nobody questioned his relaxed demeanor at that point. Nobody was calling for his release. I smiled, feeling ecstatic for the player that had become the prime target for many discouraged Pirate fans. The Pirates led 7-6 in the ninth.
Our jubilation was quickly extinguished. The first pitch of the bottom of the inning was ripped to left field, carrying over Bay’s head and into the stands. Just like that, the game was tied. After a lone expletive was spat into the air, we sat silently. Stunned. Someone broke the silence, muttering, “Unbelievable.” As Nady slammed into a wall and the Pirates finishing losing the game, we watched without expression. We were unfazed. We are Pirate fans.
A little more than 18 hours later and we were at it again, taking a 4-2 lead into the ninth. When Jose Bautista misplayed a routine ground ball to start the inning, I felt an apprehensive pain deep in my stomach. After Matt Capps retired the next two batters, I began feeling cautiously optimistic. Brian Roberts quickly shattered that confidence. His opposite field home run left me simply smiling and shaking my head. It was like a bad dream. Another blown lead.
The Pirates went right back to work, with LaRoche again delivering the big blow. This time it was an RBI single to right. I quietly smiled, and gave a slight fist pump toward the television. It was time for more fun, as Capps headed back to the mound in search of redemption. A one-run lead felt anything but promising at this point, and it was very easy to fear the worst. But Capps slammed the door. He quickly finished off the Orioles, and the Pirates managed to salvage a win in the series.
The screen went blank and I leaned back, my eyes pointed toward the ceiling. I was exhausted. One day off then right back to work.