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First call: Pat Maroon plays Game 7 hero; stunning shootout goal; ex-Pirates steady | TribLIVE.com
Breakfast With Benz

First call: Pat Maroon plays Game 7 hero; stunning shootout goal; ex-Pirates steady

Tim Benz
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The St. Lous Blues’ Pat Maroon celebrates after scoring the winning goal in double overtime in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Dallas Stars on May 7, 2019, at Enterprise Center in St. Louis, Mo.

In Wednesday’s “First Call,” Game 7 NHL drama. A head-scratching shootout goal. Catching up with Cutch. The Texas Rangers are your new second-favorite baseball team.


Feel familiar?

Whenever they see a Game 7 playoff contest go to double overtime, Pittsburgh Penguins fans think of this.

Thank you, Chris Kunitz. Thank you.

Now St. Louis Blues fans have Pat Maroon.

For as much as Maroon should be remembered for scoring, appreciate the play by 19-year-old Robert Thomas — who was great Tuesday night — to get the shot off the post in the first place.

The double-overtime goal pushed the Blues past the Dallas Stars, 2-1, and on to the Western Conference finals against Colorado or San Jose. That Game 7 between the Avalanche and Sharks is Wednesday night.


What did I just watch?

This is Arizona Coyotes forward Richard Panik. He is playing for Slovakia, against Norway, in the European Hockey Challenge. It’s a pre-IIHF World Championship tournament for the 12 best teams in Europe.

Thankfully, it has shootouts.

Watch it again.

That’s a shot taken with the toe of the underside of his blade. How do you even come up with the idea of creating that move, let alone create the torque to pull it off with that kind of pace and precision?

I’ll step aside as you share that video with your 10 best friends.


Cautious Cutch

A lot of Andrew McCutchen’s numbers aren’t what they used to be when he played in Pittsburgh.

He’s still good in one category, though. In fact, maybe even better.

The Philadelphia outfielder entered play Tuesday night tied with teammate Bryce Harper and Michael Conforto (Mets) for the National League lead in walks with 25.

McCutchen has always ranked highly in this category. But now, he’s earning his way to first base via bases on balls even better than he has in the past. That’s a good adjustment for McCutchen. Since he’s hitting only .248, at age 32, he has to get on base somehow.

McCutchen has finished in the top 10 in MLB in walks five times. His all-time high was 98. He finished sixth that year.


More Morton and Meadows

Tyler Glasnow isn’t the only former Pirates pitcher tearing up Tampa. How about Charlie Morton?

The right hander is 3-0 with a 2.52 ERA. He pitches again Wednesday night against Arizona.

As for Austin Meadows, he went 0 for 3 with a walk in his first extended spring training game and could be reinstated from the IL on Friday night. The former Pirates outfielder is recovering from a strained thumb. He may be back from the IL in time for the start of a three-game series against the New York Yankees on Friday.

The Rays beat the Diamondbacks, 6-3, on Tuesday. Tampa Bay is a league-best 23-12. That’s two games in front of the Yankees for the AL East lead.


Couldn’t have said it better

The starting pitching is good. Josh Bell is the flavor of the month. Cole Tucker is fun and promising.

But I think we all know, PNC Park is still the best thing about the Pittsburgh Pirates.

It is now, and it always will be.

And with Pittsburgh being as small of a market as we are, most folks have been to the park enough that the flattery of it from out-of-towners may be rendered moot.

More so than it should, anyway.

So when the visiting Texas Rangers’ team account tweeted out this beautiful shot with a simple catch line, it really seemed to resonate.

Yup. For an American League club that so rarely gets to visit, you can see why that setting hit home so much to them.

As that acknowledgment should hit home to us.

Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tim at [email protected] or via Twitter. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication unless specified otherwise.

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