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Wakeup Call: How many will show tonight?

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Brief and to the Point …

>> The Wednesday column chronicles a wild 24 hours that began in the wee hours with word of Erik Bedard’s release, to Mike Wallace’s showing up on the South Side, to the Pirates’ fine effort in the evening.

Tried this in the spirit of the Olympic decathlon pieces, mostly for fun.

>> Longtime readers might know I’ve forever answered criticisms about the attendance — any team’s attendance — with a simple question: Were you there?

If not, I can’t begin to see how it’s right to criticize.

In that context, then, there should be an awful lot of people ripping the attendance this morning … just as there should be the same amount of people changing that tonight.

As I write at the close of the column, this game is as big as it gets around here for baseball in 20 years. It’s one thing to sell out all three games of the weekend set with the Brewers. It’s another thing to show up on a Wednesday night when the team’s season — no drama here — might pivot in one direction or the other.

I’ve maintained even through the darkest years that Pittsburgh is a baseball town, one with a 126-year history now, one that essentially threw away a generation, but one that always was capable of getting it back.

Still believe that, but tonight will be telling.

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>> It’s difficult to top Pedro Alvarez’s two monster home runs, double and single, but it could prove no less important to the Pirates that James McDonald found his fastball command. The curve had already been coming back, but Clint Hurdle told us before the game McDonald needed to start pinpointing that fastball again. He did, with 66 of 97 pitches for strikes.

If A.J. Burnett, Jeff Karstens and (maybe) Wandy Rodriguez keep going, 4 of 5 in the rotation will mean more than anything.

>> Brief chat with Chase d’Arnaud on his recall …

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_M0dQwYOf_0

>> Much more on Wallace’s return.

>> While awaiting the royal return of Wallace, I asked some of the Steelers about their most pressing concern the rest of this preseason.

Overwhelming answer: Short-yardage offense.

“We know Ben can do what he did in the two-minute offense. That’s Ben magic there,” Ramon Foster said. “But we’re hoping we get some chances Thursday to turn it up a notch near the goal line, punch a couple in. That’s the one place we feel we really haven’t gotten it done, and that’s got to happen.”

Unclear if they’ll get the chance Thursday against the Panthers. Mike Tomlin sure made it sound like the regulars won’t play much.

>> Would love to hear from anyone who has unusual or late plans to attend this series finale. Please feel free to share below, and thanks in advance.

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