By John Shumway

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — As Joe Musgrove stepped to the mound for Monday night’s game against the Kansas City Royals, there was plenty of elbow room for the fans.

Pirates President Frank Coonelly says the remnants of Florence were to blame, “It’s not surprising fans decided that this would be the one game they would not come to in this Fan Appreciation Week.”

The team is pulling out all the stops to get fans to the games of this final homestand. They’ve made the entire week Fan Appreciation Week and are giving away 5,000 tickets each night to special groups.

Coonelly says, “Like first responders, like our military, last night was our teachers, tonight it’s youth baseball and softball night.”

Plus, there is a discount on all tickets based on the team’s performance in Milwaukee over the weekend.

“We won two of three and scored 10 runs, so $10 off any ticket at PNC Park this home stand,” he said.

Picking up his tickets at the box office on Tuesday, Brian Stoecklein, of Upper St. Clair, said the team deserves support.

“It’s nice to see them pushing ahead, they’ve got younger players, they’re above .500, it’s a nice turnaround at the end of the season,” he said.

But David Bollman, from Economy, says the Pirates need to earn turnout.

“I wish they had a few more solid parts,” he said. “they have quality guys, but not superstars, guys who are going to push them over the edge.”

There is no question the Pirates started out this season with a strong showing and are finishing with one of the best starting rotations in the league.

But as Coonelly points out, “The offense just didn’t get the job done. So we’ll look at how we can score more runs over the off season for sure.”

But, wait, there is still more baseball to be played, and Lisa Tomasovich, from Franklin Park, says the team needs to see its fans in the stands.

“I’ve played sports in my lifetime, and when the stands are empty, we feel it. So, I think the city deserves to make a showing for the Pirates,” she said.

The Pirates are finishing off the season with a never-say-die attitude, and Coonelly promises if you come to the games, “These guys are a lot of fun to watch. They haven’t given up on this season, as we saw yet again last night.”

That’s when Jacob Stallings walked it off with a single in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Coonelly, the eternal optimist, says, “Who knows, crazier things have happened than us running the table and seeing where we finish.”