The Pittsburgh Pirates have done it. They have clinched their first winning season since 1992.
The Pirates edged the Texas Rangers 1-0 on Monday night after a phenomenal pitcher’s duel between rookie right-hander Gerrit Cole and Yu Darvish. Entering the game, the Pirates had lost a season-high four consecutive contests since earning their 81st win last Tuesday.
The Pirates and the Rangers are both currently leading the wild-card chase in each league. Monday night was the opener of an incredibly important three-game series between the two teams.
Cole went seven innings, allowing three hits and two walks, while striking out nine. Darvish also went seven innings, allowing four hits, one run and striking out six.
Pittsburgh’s current hitting coach is Jay Bell, who played shortstop on the 1992 team that last had a winning record. He had said it was a huge deal for him to be a part of the current team that broke the losing season streak.
Second baseman Neil Walker – who was the team’s first-round draft pick in 2004 and has spent his entire career in Pittsburgh – had the following to say about the win:
I understand the significance of this game, the 82nd win, more than probably at least most of the players here. As big as this win is for the city of Pittsburgh and the organization, and as big a deal as the media is going to make out of it, we still have a lot of baseball to play. We’ve got a lot of games we need to win, we’re in a tight race.
With the win the Pirates moved to within a game of the NL Central-leading St. Louis Cardinals, who swept Pittsburgh in three games over the weekend.
The Pirates have done better than anyone imagined they would do this season. At this point they have to be the nation’s sentimental favorite to win the World Series.