PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The Pittsburgh Pirates took the field last night for a Wild Card matchup against the Cincinnati Reds with a secret weapon – the 40,487 fans in the stands.
The Cincinnati Reds may deny that the fans had any influence on the game last night, but those in attendance and anyone watching on television knows better.
There’s something special about hearing a crowd of that magnitude serenading a pitcher relentlessly. That type of treatment is normally reserved for visiting goaltenders in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
And don’t think for a second that the players didn’t notice or feed off of it last night.
“I’ve been to AFC Championship games and I think this was – there were only 40,000 in the stands, but I’m pretty sure this was [louder] than Heinz Field for an AFC playoff game,” Neil Walker said.
“It’s humbling. Every guy in this room has had a positive effect on this town. You can’t walk down the street without people getting crazy about the Pirates,” Jason Grilli said.
Even Pirates manager Clint Hurdle stopped to soak in the energy the fans brought to the ballpark last night.
“That’s an impressive showing from our fans. I mean, this never gets old. I’ve been in a lot of big venues. This was exciting for me as anything I’ve ever experienced on a ball field,” Hurdle said.
The 6-2 win over the Reds was the first playoff win in Pittsburgh since 1992. Last night, even this season, has been a long time coming for many fans.
“Absolutely unbelievable. I was 6-years-old when this first happened. I was actually at a playoff game, barely remembered it in 1992 and this is just a combination of 21 years. I’m in awe,” Chad Slagel said.
“It’s awesome. After all these years, the drought is over,” Steve Kurtz said.
The Pirates will now take on the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Divisional Series. However, some fans think this matchup with the Cardinals is just another stepping stone to something bigger.
“The Pirates are going to win the World Series. It’s about time. The Steelers did it. The Penguins did it and now it’s time for the Buccos again. Guarantee it,” Bill Kunkle said.
Game 1 against the Cardinals will get underway at 5 p.m. on Thursday.