Benz: ‘The Phillies Series Was Fun But…’

This commentary by Tim Benz on Pirates Talk Now is sponsored by Blush Gentlemen’s Club, Pittsburgh’s #1 Gentlemen’s Club! Blush has Happy Hour Specials and a all new Sports Bar located on the 3rd floor. Blush is located at 135 9th Street in Downtown Pittsburgh.

I’ll admit it. This is probably “the wrong” reaction to have to that Pirates 6-3 win last night in Philadelphia.

 But it depressed me.

 And it depressed because…it was such a fun game to watch! So much happened. I just wish that
game had more meaning than a drizzly Thursday night victory over the worst team
in baseball.

 “I’ve never seen a game where an outfielder had three assists,” stammered befuddled manager Clint
Hurdle.” Well, Clint, nobody who watches the Pirates has. At least not since 1991 anyway when Cecil Espy was the last guy to do it for the Bucs (bet you didn’t expect a Cecil Espy reference dropped in your lap today. Wallow in it.Bask in its glory. Thank me later).

 But Jose Osuna did just that last night. And as Hurdle said, he wasn’t showing off his arm and gambling. They were all sound, fundamental plays. “He got the ball in quickly and efficiently. He made plays. They all meant something.”

 And Osuna’s arm was just the tip of the iceberg. Other highlight moments happened all over the diamond. Gregory Polanco went 4-4 with a homer. Andrew McCutchen stayed hot going 3-4. Josh Bell homered and doubled. Chad Kuhl pitched into (gasp) the seventh allowing just two earned runs.

 And the bullpen didn’t even blow the game.

 The Pirates came back from an early deficit. Took a lead. Gave it up in the seventh. Got it back in the 8th and nailed it down in the ninth. There was the intrigue of Hurdle leaving Kuhl in to pitch the seventh, only two see him allow three straight hits with two outs to allow the Phillies to tie the game at 3-3.

 But could you blame Hurdle?

It was that or go to the perpetually shaky Tony Watson. Which, ironically, he had to do in the 8th anyway. And, go figure, Watson sent the Phillies down in order. For a change.

 With so many twists and turns, it was an enjoyable game to witness. It was an entertaining series actually.

 On Tuesday you saw that tattered Pirates pen close down a shutout for Jameson Taillon, whose cancer comeback continues to amaze. On Wednesday, constantly petulant Gerrit Cole managed to keep his cool in the face of a rocky start and terrible umpiring that nearly lead to an ejection of Francisco Cervelli. Cole even got a huge RBI hit. And Polanco showed off his arm too, gunning down a runner at home plate.

 What did you miss?

 Except stakes. Importance of the outcome. Drama. Impact on the standings.

 It was this meandering fourth place Pirate team against the bottom of the National League barrel from Philly. Any time between 2011 and 2015 at this time of year a series like this would’ve been major talking point kind of stuff.

 Instead, I found myself wondering more about who the Penguins would acquire to be their third line center and if Le’Veon Bell would sign his franchise tag.

 Despite the fun on-field ebb and flow of these games, the only Bucco dialogue back in Pittsburgh seemed to be about whether or not McCutchen would get traded or extended. In other words, the usual Pirate financial-impact-on-the-roster fodder that could
populate sports talk radio on any given day.

 If the team was better, speculative conjecture like that could have given way to actual baseball talk.

 But for as good as this series was, that’s how bad the Pirates have been for the most part this year. Listless and inconsistent. Which is why I soaked up these games as much as I did.

 They happened. And they were fun. But they happened in the vacuum of a vacuous season the likes of which we hoped had died after 2012.


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