It was the third biggest crowd the park has seen in it's 11th season in MLB play. The Pittsburgh Pirates walked off the field a game over .500 with a 3-1 win over the team with the best record in the American League. At night's end, a look up at the NL Central standings showed the Bucs just three games out of first place and in a tie for third place with Cincinnati. And the victory was filled with as much drama as the stands were of visiting Boston Red Sox caps, providing a back and forth emotional flow that sports fans live off.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said it best when he proclaimed afterwards, "We've got some players with some fast heartbeats, and obviously [Boston's] got a lot of players with slow heartbeats. They're probably just out playing another team tonight, but there are some guys in our dugout it wasn't just another game for us. You'd like to think it would be and they'll probably tell you it was but it was a little different on our side. We're gaining experience every day. There's a lot of guys in here who had a chance to grow up a little bit today."
A 38-37 record on June 24th is still no logical time for partying in the streets. But it felt that way to many long-suffering PIrates fans tonight.
Here were some of the quotes from Pirates players in regards to a number of key situations in the Friday night ballgame that very well could be the biggest win in PNC Park history. Perhaps until game two of the series tomorrow.
On the win in general
"I really like it when our team wins in front of big crowds at home. That makes me smile."
On Pirates' bullpen arm Jose Veras facing Boston's David Ortiz in the 8th inning, runners on second and third and two outs in a 3-1 ballgame:
"That was pretty good drama. You've got the tying run at second, and you've got one of the better hitters in the American League at the plate. I'm not a big fan of pitching around guys. I'd rather wear it. If you're going to put him on, the next guy gets a hit, I wear it. But I went out I wanted to take Jose's temperature, I said 'What's your plan?' He gave me a plan, I said 'I'm good with that, let's go do it.' If it had come out a little not sure, 'What do you think?,' you know I had a plan in place. But he knew how he wanted to go at him, and some times you've just got to buy real estate with your players."
On why Hurdle didn't pull Veras for lefthander Daniel Moskos there:
The lefty-lefty thing, the one thing it does it covers a manager's backside. But if you're not sold on your gut, I'm not going to do it. I like the fact that Jose's got some experience. He's been able to handle those types of situations, those high-leverage situations than Danny. If something would have gotten away from us I've got Danny ready for Ellsbury. Right there, Jose was our man. I felt confident walking off that Jose was going to give everything that he got, and how it ended up it ended up, and if it doesn't work it's on me. I'm comfortable with it being on me."
On the matchup with Ortiz:
"He's a great hitter, power guy. You've got to have a plan for those guys. The tying run on second base. Basically a double is going to be a tie ballgame. So, you've got to make a decision, first base is open. Make quality pitches to that guy so you don't pay for it. We've got to go in soft early with that guy, because he's a great power guy. Like J.D. Drew [who singled earlier in the inning] we threw a great fastball down and away, he hacked it for a [hit]. Late in the game like this you try to go in first pitch for a strike, and if it's a fastball they're going to jump on it. I know, I was in the American League for a little bit, I know those guys are going to jump on my first pitch fastball. It's my best pitch. So it was a good plan pitching backwards. Soft early and hard late. He's been my friend since 1996 before I signed, I've known him for a long time. He's my compadre. We've been together for a long time, since winter ball from 1998-2005, so I have a good idea how to face that guy."
On SS Ronny Cedeno playing Ortiz up the middle and recording the ground out:
"He knows he's a pull hitter, he was close to the base so he got a chance to [get it] when he rolls it over to the middle. It was a great idea the way we throw to him."
On his strikeout of Marco Scutaro on a curveball with one out, prior to Ortiz:
"That's my second best pitch. I know he's a great fastball hitter, I faced him a lot in the American League when he was with Toronto. We got him right away with a breaking ball for a strike, we're not going to try to surprise him with fastballs away, he can throw the bat to it and send it to the right field line. If we would try to come in[side] he can hit it to leftfield. So, I know he's been struggling a little bit with the breaking stuff so we got it done with that."
On closing the game in the 9th inning against Boston's top of the order:
"It is fun beating the best. That's what you play the game for, if you want to be one of the better guys you've got to face the best so it's a lot of fun coming in there and facing the heart of lineups and really, I don't really notice that much about the hitter. I know what they can do, but I don't look at the hitter when I'm in there. Just stick to my gameplan and see what happens."
On the entire bullpen's shutout performance with 3 2/3 IP:
"That's what we've been doing lately, with everybody stepping up at whatever time. It's fun watching those guys. You're seeing Tony Watson go out there and grow right before you. I didn't know much about him before except that he was from Iowa. He's come out in those situations and been great. Resop comes in and gets a double play. It's fun watching them."
On getting Boston's Adrian Gonzalez to pop out in the 7th inning with one on and one out:
"You've just got to put aside who's up there and execute your pitches. That was a big out right there in the game and I didn't want a run to cross. The numbers don't lie [for Gonzalez], he's obviously having a great year. But left-on-left that's what Clint went with and trusted in and I'm fortunate enough that he trusted in me and I got the job done. We just threw the scouting report, obviously I've never faced him. Mac [McKenry] did a great job behind the dish calling pitches, and I just trusted what he put down."
Clint Hurdle on 3B Chase D'Arnaud making his ML debut:
"I'll probably start him again tomorrow. He did a nice job today, had to be a very exciting day for him. We win a ballgame, it's a packed house. I think his Dad was here. Triple his first game. He's already tied [Chris] Snyder [in triples]. Good for Chase, that's a lifelong dream right there since you're probably six playing in the backyard to play against Big Leaguers and for it to be against the Red Sox on a Friday night crowd in front of a packed house. Special."
On his first ML hit, a triple:
"You know I hit it and I was thinking to myself to be an agressive baserunner. I didn't know if it was going to be fair, I just put my head down and ran. I saw that he [the leftfielder] was wrestling it around in the left field corner and just continued on to third."
On whether he realized during the game he was in the Majors:
"I was trying to keep my head down the whole time, and it wasn't until later in the game that I started to realize what was going on around me. I just tried to keep my eyes on the field. And that was the best advice I could have taken before the game today, that really helped me. It's everybody's dream that plays baseball to get up to this level, and it's just starting to set it. After this first game I'm happy that I had a good day today. I just need to stay on course and never be too satisfied with how I've done, so tomorrow if I am in the lineup I'll be ready."
On playing third base:
"It was good, I feel comfortable there. I played there my first and second year in college and I played there three games prior to getting called up. Third base is a position that I can just be throw at and I just always seem to feel a comfort level over there, it's kind of like home to me."
On how he found up he was getting called up yesterday:
"I was in Lehigh Valley, we were on the road, and my manager called me in and he was making up some stuff, reasons to tell me that I can't play the next day. He said, 'you know you ran a :4.06 down the line to beat out a routine ground ball to short your first at bat, and then you ran a :4.2 your next one. Why did you let up?' I didn't have an answer. And then he said I ran a :4.7 rounding first base on a flyball to right, which I don't think I'd ever run that bad. Then he said, 'You're not playing tomorrow, because you're going to Pittsburgh.' I'll take it."
On how long he expects to stay:
"I hope so, I have no expectations. I can only control the things that I can control. I'm going to get after it every day and play my heart out. Hopefully I can stay up here as long as I can."