PIRATES CLINCH FIRST WINNING SEASON
With their 1-0 victory at Texas on Monday night, the Pittsburgh Pirates clinched their first winning season since 1992. But the real story is that victory No. 82 was really just another step toward their goal of getting into the playoffs.
“It’s going to touch a lot of people on a lot of different levels. We are aware of it,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “Everybody’s here for a reason, and that’s to knock down things we haven’t done in a long time.”
Rookie right-hander Gerrit Cole (7-7) had the best start of his career, throwing seven scoreless innings with a career-high nine strikeouts to win a pitcher’s duel against Yu Darvish.
“We don’t really understand what the fans have been through. I know it definitely puts a smile on their face when they see that No. 82 up there,” Cole said. “We’re extremely happy to be able to make them feel like we’ve got a winning team out there. But we’ve got a few weeks ahead and those are going to be some real big games.”
Pittsburgh had lost a season-high four games in a row since getting their 81st victory last Tuesday at Milwaukee.
The Pirates (82-61) didn’t get a runner to second base against Darvish (12-8) until Marlon Byrd’s two-out double in the seventh. He came home when Pedro Alvarez, mired in a 5-for-41 slump over 12 games, followed with a double.
They finally have their winning season after taking the opener of a three-game interleague series between wild-card leaders.
“It’s a huge deal for me. It certainly thrills me to be a part of that,” said Pirates hitting coach Jay Bell, a shortstop on that 1992 team.
“I understand the significance of this game, the 82nd win, more than probably at least most of the players here,” said second baseman Neil Walker, the team’s first-round pick in 2004. “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.”
The Pirates moved within a game of NL Central-leading St. Louis, which swept Pittsburgh in three games over the weekend.