The final game of the three game series between the Pirates and Reds Sunday afternoon at PNC Park started off like most recent "final" games of a series in-which Pittsburgh took the first two.
Starting pitcher Phil Irwin
made his Major League debut for the Pirates thanks to Wandy Rodriguez's hamstring injury, and before you knew it, Cincinnati was up, 5-0. Pittsburgh's offense looked pretty lifeless (what else is new?), and as a fan, I prepared myself for the traditional postgame fodder from Clint Hurdle and his charges: "Hey, today didn't go so well for us, but we took two out of three from a very good Reds' team, and it's always the objective to win the series."
The Pirates trailed by that same 5-0 score heading into the seventh inning, before erupting for four runs in the bottom of the seventh--including a solo shot by back-up catcher Michael McKenry and a run scoring double by Travis Snider that should have been a two-run jack, but was mistakenly ruled a ground-rule double due to fan interference that wasn't.
Cincinnati got a run back in the top of the eighth, but in the bottom of the inning, McKreny, who has shown a flair for dramatic home runs during his short time with the Pirates, hit his second in as many innings-this time a two-run shot--to tie the game, 6-6.
Later in the inning, Starling Marte, who so far this season looks like the 2012 version of Andrew McCutchen but with a translator, jacked his very own two-run homer to put Pittsbugh up for good.
The Pirates would add on two more in the inning and walk away with a very sweet--and against type--sweep of last year's NL Central Champions.
I know it's still early, and despite their current hot streak of five victories in six games, the Pirates are still only 6-6.
But it was a magical weekend at PNC Park, the kind of magic that hadn't been felt around here since early August of last season.
And maybe that sweep was a character builder--sometimes the objective heading into a series should be to take every game.
That's what champions do.