If the Pittsburgh Pirates should reach the post-season you can point to today as the day they became a playoff team. The Pirates bested the Cardinals 6-3 in 19 innings. Bucs thirdbaseman Pedro Alvarez hit a homerun in the top of the 19th to win the game.
Prior to today, the Pirates had lost 7 of their last 10 games and entered play today only a game up on the Cardinals for the second NL Wild Card spot.
You will recall that in July 2011, the Pirates lost a 19-inning game to the Atlanta Braves on a controversial call at home plate. The Bucs were never the same after that game. Perhaps fortune is smiling on the Pirates this year.
When I got home, I went online and saw the game was in the 18th inning. I turned on the MLB Network and, lo and behold, I saw Jim Kaat was in the studio. Usually Kaat broadcasts games instead of working as a studio analyst. I don’t know if Kaat brought this up but he was in an extra inning game between the Pirates and Cardinals thirty years ago this month.
On August 2, 1982, I watched the Pirates and Cardinals play 17 innings on ABC’s Monday Night Baseball. For years, it was the longest game I had ever watched from start to finish. Kaat pitched the last six innings of the game for the Cards. He ended up being tagged with the loss after Pirates rookie secondbaseman Johnny Ray hit a two-run triple off him for a 4-2 victory. Prior to that at bat, Ray had been 0-for-7 in the game. I don’t know if Kaat said anything about that game. If he didn’t then perhaps his Kaat caught his tongue. Although the Pirates won the game, the Cardinals ended up winning the World Series that year. Could history repeat itself? Or will the Pirates raise the flag?