Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Friday, August, 20, 2010 - Sunday, August 22, 2010

A three day weekend for me and the Mets playing in Pittsburgh (where the tickets are always plentiful and reasonably priced) equaled a trip to Western PA for us!

We left on Friday, driving as far as Altoona and spending the night. Along the way, we stopped at Cooper's in Pittston for some dinner. Good eats there! Afterwards, we drove the rest of the way to the Comfort Suites just outside of Altoona where we spent the night.

Saturday morning we got up and had some breakfast at the hotel before continuing on to Pittsburgh. We arrived there around noon, and went to the new casino there, "The Rivers Casino". We spent some money there (just about broke even), and had lunch at "The Wheelhouse Bar and Grill".

We drove up to our hotel after lunch - the Omni William Penn (room 1637, $198.00 per night), right in downtown Pittsburgh. A great location for the game (plus any future games we might go to there, be it football, baseball, or hockey) since we were able to walk a short distance to the ballpark. Our room was HUGE and included a dining room table and almost full living room! Plus, it was very reasonably priced to boot!

We got ready for the game, and then walked over to PNC Park. This was our second visit there, having been there in 2005. Second impressions - they need to take better care of their ballpark. This is one of the best venues in all of major league baseball, but it's obvious the team doesn't take good care of the place. Very disappointing really, because it doesn't need to be that way.

Before the game, we went across the street to Mullen's Bar and Grill for a couple drinks waiting for the gates to open. When they finally did, we hit the park. It was interesting to be in a stadium that had half the fans from the home team, and half from the visiting team! There was as much Mets garb there as there was Pirates!

In an ironic twist, our seats ended up being really good (because of a change in the weather)! Initially, when I bought the tickets, I thought we would be in the lower boxes since it was row "CC". Instead, the double letters put us above the single letters, so in essence we were 29 rows back! Under cover too! At first, this was kind of a bummer, until it started raining!! We stayed bone dry as we watched those in the lower box seats scrambling up the stairs to take cover! The rain finally won out, and the game was cancelled (albeit an official game) in the sixth inning. We walked back to the hotel afterwards and called it a night.

Sunday morning brought a bit of a sleep in for us! We don't get to do that much these days, so it was nice to not have to worry about an alarm clock waking us. In search of the perfect place for breakfast/brunch in Pittsburgh, Jill discovered one thing - Pittsburgh is not a 'foodie town' at all. As she always does though, Jill was able to weed out a place and we were off in search of it. As we followed the Garmin's directions, and our scenery went from commercial, to mixed, to nothing but residential, we were beginning to think the GPS was taking us on a wild goose chase (goodness knows it'd done that many times before!!). We were pleasantly surprised though to find our destination was in fact on the corner in what appeared to be an old store in the middle of this neighborhood.

The Point Brugge Cafe' was a gem that Jill found in this city that is otherwise devoid of good foodie spots. We waited about 20 minutes for a table, but it was well worth the wait and the food that we got! We will definately keep this on the radar for any future visits to P-Burgh! For brunch, Jill had the liege waffles, topped with brandied peaches and a Pimm's cup to drink, and I had the ham & gruyere croque madam (and a diet coke to drink - I had to get us home). Both dishes were phenominal and left us wanting more!

After brunch, we made the long drive back to Binghamton, arriving home around 6:00 on Sunday night.

New York Mets 5, Pittsburgh Pirates 1

PITTSBURGH -- The Mets got a fourth consecutive one-run start from lefty Jon Niese and defeated the Pirates, 5-1, in a game called after five innings because of steady rain on Saturday night at PNC Park.

"Neise works pretty fast, but I was definitely glad to get those last couple of outs," said Mets manager Jerry Manuel. "We didn't have any idea what the weather forecast was, we were just trying to play baseball."

Niese (8-5), who had pitched seven innings in three successive starts, tossed another gem after a 20-minute rain delay at the start of the game. He worked five innings and allowed one run on five hits in often heavy rain.

"It was one of those games -- this is a funny game," Niese said. "But I was happy with the win. It was another great defensively-played game and I was just happy to come out with the 'W.'"

The umpiring crew waited one hour, six minutes minutes before calling the game, as the radar showed that rain was expected to continue in the area through the night.

Pirates right-hander James McDonald (2-3) hurled five innings, allowing five runs on six hits. He issued five walks and tossed a wild pitch.

McDonald wouldn't make any excuses about the weather conditions.

"Their guy had to deal with the same thing," he said. "The rain wasn't a problem. I've just got to bear down and make better pitches."

The Mets scored first for the sixth consecutive game. Jose Reyes doubled on the game's first pitch and Angel Pagan singled, sending Reyes to third. With one out, Chris Carter struck out and Reyes scampered home when Bucs catcher Chris Snyder threw to first base -- completing the strikeout -- to give New York a 1-0 lead.

"I got the ball, checked Reyes and tried to make as quick of a throw as possible," Snyder said. "Right when I threw the ball, I was going back to the plate knowing that the type of runner he is, he'd be coming. I did pretty much everything I could do, and I guess he got a hand in there."

Reyes has now hit safely in 21 consecutive road games, one shy of the team record set by Keith Hernandez in 1987.

"Reyes is just hot right now," Manuel said. "He's really, really, really hot and playing extremely well."

Pittsburgh tied the score in the bottom of the third inning. Andrew McCutchen led off with his second double of the game and scored on a one-out single by Neil Walker.

The Mets regained the lead in the top of the fourth. Ike Davis doubled and advanced to third base on a wild pitch. Ruben Tejada knocked Davis in with a sacrifice fly to left field, supplying the ultimate advantage.

The Mets got to McDonald again in the top of the fifth, when David Wright crushed a three-run home run into the left-center-field bullpen. It was home run No. 19 for Wright on the season, and it put the Mets on top, 5-1.

"I hit a fastball," Wright said. "McDonald has got really good stuff, and I think he is very good and is only going to get better. He's got very good secondary pitches and has got enough on his fastball to throw it by you. As a hitter, against a guy like that, you really have to go up there and look for certain pitches, and I was fortunate and got lucky and got one I was looking for."

"That was a good pitch he hit, so I have to tip my hat to him," McDonald said. "He took a good swing at a good pitch."

After taking Friday's opener in a 7-2 manner, the Mets clinched their first road series over a National League opponent this season. They swept both the Indians and Orioles during Interleague Play.

"I think that's the reason we're not where we want to be," Wright said. "It's because we haven't been able to do anything on the road basically all year. We've had the good series in Baltimore and the good series in Cleveland, and we're playing well here, but other than that it's been a miserable year thus far trying to win on the road.

"There's no secret to that, and that's why were in the position that we're in right now."

Trip Notes:

Our seats for the Pirates game were Section 121, Row CC, Seats 15-16.