Royalty Tours USA

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Royalty returns to PNC Park in Pittsburgh before the season comes to a close!

Jason Grilli signed the ball he threw me & my score book
While I had no games in the local area after work Thursday and Friday night, the King rented a car for four days so he could see more baseball before the regular season ended.

He went to Citizens Bank Park Thursday night to see the Phillies play the Nationals after he went to Citi Field for the last Met home game in the afternoon against the Pirates.

Friday night he went to Baltimore to see the Orioles play the Red Sox. He took our friends Ralph and Vincent Ascanio with him. He drove them back to Brooklyn where they live.

Saturday morning he woke up and he took me to Pittsburgh. We went to PNC Park to see the Pirates play the Cincinnati Reds at 7:05PM. We spent most of the day driving once we left Queens around 10:30AM. We arrived in Pittsburgh shortly after 6PM which worked out well since we park on the street where meters are in effect until 6PM so we didn't have to put any money in for the rest of the night.

On the way to Pittsburgh, I wrote our pal Manny Morales a text message because he was flying from New York to Pittsburgh. He was going to arrive in the early afternoon. I asked him if he could go to the box office and get the King and I a pair of tickets since we didn't have any yet. Manny said that wouldn't be a problem. Shortly after he wrote that, he wrote me again and he said he had two extra tickets because these people we know who he got tickets for got stuck in Columbus, Ohio. They couldn't get on a Greyhound bus like they planned to in order to get to Pittsburgh on time for the game. So with that being said, Manny said the King and I can use the extra sheets of paper he had for them. It was very nice of him. We were very grateful that everything worked out for us.

Once we parked the car, we got in contact with Manny and he met us outside the left field gate by the Willie Stargell statue. We exchanged pleasantries, he gave us the tickets if you will and we proceeded to go in. Our seats were located in section 310 near the top by first base. I told Manny and the King I'll meet them up at the seats.

In the meantime, I went out to the bullpen area which is located in left center field. I was planning to see Jason Grilli when he and the rest of the relief pitchers made their way out to the bullpen. Just before game time they all came out. I saw Jason leading the charge. I got his attention like I told him I would Tuesday night at Citi Field. I brought the ball he threw me during batting practice and he signed it for me. In addition, he signed my score book from the Tuesday game that he appeared in and threw a 1,2,3 scoreless eighth inning as the Pirates went on to beat the Mets, 10-6. I was very grateful that I had the opportunity to see Jason again. He had a great year for the Pirates in his set up role. I hope they reward him with a nice raise and contract that keeps him in Pittsburgh for a few more years. Regardless I don't see why he won't land on a major league roster in 2013. Wherever he goes, I'll be looking to track him down so we can catch up in the future.

After seeing Jason, I went up to see Manny and the King in section 310.

As for the game we saw, runs were few and far between. In fact, the game stayed scoreless until the bottom of the seventh inning when the Pirates finally broke through. After a lead off hit by Clint Barmes to left field, Chase d'Arnaud came in to pinch run. It paid off as Reds' relief pitcher Jose Arredondo threw the ball away as he tried to pick him off at first base while pinch hitter Brock Holt was batting for Kyle McPherson who pitched six shutout innings. Holt laid down a nice sacrifice bunt that catcher Dioner Navarro picked up and he threw him out at first base. As a result, Chase d'Arnaud advanced to third base with just one out. The lead off batter Alex Presley delivered a double to left center that gave the Pirates a 1-0 lead. After a walk to Josh Harrison, Andrew McCutchen flew out to center field to end the inning and the threat for more runs.
Jason Grilli came on to pitch the eighth inning in hopes of setting up a save for closer Joel Hanrahan.

Unfortunately Jason had a tough inning. He allowed a lead off double to Ryan Ludwick to start the inning. He moved to third on a bunt by Wilson Valdez with one out. Zack Cozart, the next batter struck out swinging for the second out. Joey Votto was intentionally walked. Didi Gregorious came in to pinch run for Votto. Scott Rolen got a big clutch two out hit to left center that tied the game at one. In all fairness to Jason Grilli, it seemed like he got squeezed a pitch before Rolen came through. Home plate umpire Chris Conroy called a pitch to Rolen a ball on a 2-1 count that made the count 3-1. In my eyes, it looked like a strike. If so, the count would have been 2-2. With that being said, Jason would have had a much chance of pitching out of the jam. After the Reds tied the score, Jason rebounded to struck out Jay Bruce to stop the bleeding. Jason came off the mound fired up in elation as he minimized the damage.

After closer Joel Hanrahan came into a tied game, he escaped a few walks in the top of the ninth inning to keep the game tied at one. In the bottom of the ninth, with one out Andrew McCutchen had a chance to redeem himself since he failed in the seventh to add an insurance run. He did so in dramatic fashion as he hit a game winning homer to right center field to win the game for the Pirates, 2-1 as they raised the Jolly Roger. With that, Manny, the King and I made our way out of the ballpark. The majority of the crowd stayed because they were having a post game concert as well as a spectacular fireworks show which we watched as we walked back to the car.

As a token of appreciation, we drove Manny back to his hotel in nearby Oakland, PA. He was grateful that we gave him a ride. He's been so good to us over the years. That's the least we could do for him. Manny was staying over for the game on Sunday as well.

As for the King and I, we drove to Somerset, PA where we spent the night.

Stay tuned for the next leg of this adventurous getaway.

Thank you for reading and following along.

Yours truly,

Gary Herman

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