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After Two Games, Pirates Still On Top Of The World

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Pirates win / MLB.comYe of little faith, pay no attention to the men behind the curtain. Brains, heart, courage: the Pirates have them all, and what's more these guys think they can win. They think they can. They think they can. They think they can play baseball. Game two and they still sit atop the National League Central after a 4-3 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

It may have taken 10 innings. They may have blown a three-run lead. Nonetheless, the Pirates are 2-0; God's in his heaven and all's right with the world.

Ross Ohlendorf, perhaps the Buccos' best pitcher for at least part of last season pitched five innings — four scoreless, which is not bad considering a rather miserable spring training. He went out for a pinch hitter after giving up three runs in the top of the fifth to tie the game. But wonder of wonders, the relief corps held the Dodgers scoreless into the 10th.

Then came the extra frame. With the past few seasons in mind, any reasonable person would expect the Pirates to fold under pressure, and guess what happened? Ramon Ortiz comes in to pitch for the Dodgers. Lastings Milledge reaches on a fielding error by Dodger second baseman Blake DeWitt. Jeff Clement sacrifices Milledge to second. Andy LaRoche walks. Ryan Church, one of Opening Day's heroes, pinch hits and walks.

Bases are loaded, one out. We're talking major drama for the second game of the series. Drama we may not see too often, so it's best to make the most of it while we can. Up to the plate comes shortstop, Ronny Cedeno. He swings at the first pitch — a slider. Strike one. He swings at the second pitch — a slider. Strike two. He lets the third pitch, another slider, go by for a ball. He fouls off the fourth pitch, another slider. The fifth pitch is — you guessed it — another slider, this one in the dirt for ball two. He fouls off two fastballs and another slider. This is one hell of an at bat. And it gets better: the ninth pitch, a 92-mph fastball, is stroked to center for a line drive hit. Game, set, match. Wrong sport, I know. But who cares, the Pirates win in 10. Not only do they win, but the game is exciting.

And on top of all this, Garrett Jones, after two home runs yesterday, blasts a three-run homer in his first at bat today. He keeps this up and Barry Bonds had best look out for his record.

Sure, Pirates fans know it’s a long season. Sure, we know that it's only two games. One of the fan questions on the Pittsburgh Post Gazette Pirate beat writer's blog asks him to speculate about who he thinks will be the first member of the current team to be traded this year. Opening game winner Zach Duke was his personal choice. Pirates fans know the history of the club in recent years. So you'll have to pardon us for a little gloating while the gloating is possible.

After all, 31,061 of us turned out to see the game. Not bad for a team that may well be looking to trade their opening day winner in a few months.

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About Jack Goodstein