We got to the stadium just before game time, and there was a weird buzz in the air. I am, of course, referring to the excitement over Joel Piñeiro’s second Cardinals start. On the way down to our seats it seemed like everyone was facing the same direction and having the same conversation.
He was a pitcher, I gather, and then he wasn’t a pitcher. Here’s the last moment he had before all eyes were glued on him for the duration:
Eckstein got on base, and up came the number two hitter:
And I’m sure there were… one or two people there who didn’t know the full scouting report and thought: What kind of hitter is this guy?
CROWD [unison]: Well, he doesn’t get cheated out there.
Second at-bat: more cheers. More swings. A strikeout.
Back in the outfield, a good play momentarily masks the nervous realization that a good story doesn’t have to keep being good all the time.
At-bat three: more cheering, then a strikeout, then deathly silence, then more cheering.
In the meantime, the Cardinals have knocked Chris Young The Terrible out of the game. Piñeiro has dominated an admittedly mediocre Padres lineup with a wide variety of breaking pitches and a better fastball than he’s had in sometime, and the bats have scraped together two runs for Izzy. But for some reason, people still seem ill at ease. And Rick Ankiel is back here, listening to nervous applause.
Foul ball. Ball. Ball. (Crowd: hey, he can take pitches! That’s good, right? Maybe this is a learning experience.) Curveball:
Never any doubt.