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Pirates Rally Again to Sweep Padres, But Should Game Have Been Played?

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Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates

PITTSBURGH — For the second time in three games, the Pittsburgh Pirates came from behind to defeat the San Diego Padres.

After trailing 4-0 against San Diego on Thursday afternoon, the Pirates fought their way back to earn a 5-4 win, giving them a three-game sweep over the Padres.

“It was huge, coming off of the past week or so to get that spark and get us rolling in the right direction is big time and this is a big statement game for us again,” David Bednar, who collected a four-out save, said.

The circumstances surrounding the start of the game were questionable. The Canadian wildfires have created a thick haze across the city of Pittsburgh, creating poor air quality in the area.

When the PNC Park grounds crew put a tarp over the pitcher’s mound and home plate just minutes prior to first pitch, it looked like the game might get postponed.

Instead, the Pirates announced that the start of the game would be delayed. What was supposed to be a 12:35 first pitch turned into a 1:20 first pitch.

“I think the reason we had the delay was to make sure that we were able to have conversations with some of them about their concerns, manager Derek Shelton said. They were able to voice them and we were able to talk back with them about what was going on… We just wanted to make sure that after there were some opinions expressed we were able to give all the information possible.”

A few of the Pirates’ players expressed some concerns about playing the scheduled game in lieu of the potential health hazards with the polluted air.

Among them was Andrew McCutchen, who wore a mask while on the bases. McCutchen was later understanding of the whole situation and how it developed.

“[Satisfied] as much as I could be, understanding that, on both ends, this is newfound territory to everybody, not just the players but MLB. It’s one of those things where you have to go through it. If something like that were to ever happen again, we have more of a feel for it.”

Sitting up in the press box at the stadium with the windows cracked, the air did in fact seem heavier.

On the field, it wasn’t necessarily a drastic difference from any other day, but it also wasn’t necessarily as normal, either.

“I didn’t notice it much, but I thought when I was running, I was a tick more fatigued than normal,” Henry Davis said. “I don’t know if that was the placebo effect of just everyone talking about it or just running. That would have been about the only thing.”

The delay seemed like an unnecessary measure at the time. Fans were forced to sit out in the open air for even longer than they would have had to if the game started on time.

Knowing that more conversation was needed between the Pirates’ players, coaches and other parties, makes more sense for the delay.

The fact the the players gave the green light to the game being played makes the decision justifiable, but the process needs to be cleaned up moving forward.

Player safety is always a concern. Fan safety needs to be at the forefront, too.

This is certainly an unprecedented scenario and the process leading up to the game was a rocky one. But at least now, the Pirates and Major League Baseball will have a better understanding of situations like this should ever arise in the future.

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