PIRATES – ROCKIES REACTIONS
Aramis Ramirez had some history on his mind.
The 37-year-old third baseman wanted to know when the last time the Pirates had been 30 games above .500. When he was told that it was six years before he broke into the major leagues in 1998 as a teenager with the Pirates, his eyes grew wide.
To be exact, it was the final day of the 1992 regular season when the Pirates finished 96-66 while winning their third consecutive National League East title.
“Wow, that’s a long time,” Ramirez said.
The Pirates finally got back to 30 games over .500 on Saturday night as a 4-3 victory over the Colorado Rockies at PNC Park raised their record to 79-49. They remained 3 ½ games behind first-place St. Louis in the National League Central after the Cardinals won 6-0 at San Francisco.
Ramirez played a big part in the victory as his three-run home run off losing pitcher Chris Rusin in the bottom of the first inning opened the scoring. It gave the Pirates just enough cushion as Nick Hundley hit a two-run homer off Mark Melancon in the ninth inning to draw the Rockies with a run before the closer held on for his 43rd save.
“With a runner on third base and one out, I’m just trying to hit the ball hard and get the run home,” Ramirez said. “It was good to it one out of the park.”
It was the first home run Ramirez hit as a Pirate at PNC Park since July 20, 2003 when he connected off Milwaukee Brewers left-hander Matt Ford. Three days later Ramirez was traded to the Chicago Cubs in a salary dump.
Not surprisingly, Ramirez doesn’t remember that home run. Even at his advanced age — at least by baseball standards — he is not the sentimental type, doesn’t sit at his locker and regale teammates and the media with stories from the “old days.”
Ramirez has always been a dispassionate player, which caused him to draw a fair amount of criticism early in his career when Pirates fans felt he should have showed more emotion after striking out or making an error.
Thus, Ramirez isn’t willing to help write the narrative of how his career has gone full circle since the Pirates acquired him from the Brewers on July 23 in a trade. Ramirez is retiring at the end of the season and just wants to get to the World Series for the first time in his 18-year career, regardless of the team.
Through 29 games with the Pirates, he is hitting .248 with two home runs and 20 RBIs.
However, Ramirez admitted he is having fun in his second act with the Pirates.
“Winning creates good chemistry because you’re winning and just about everybody is having a good year,” Ramirez said. “It’s fun when you win and it’s not fun when you lose.”
Ramirez knows all about losing as his previous six seasons with the Pirates was part of the
franchise’s streak of 20 consecutive losing seasons from 1993-2012, a major North American professional team sports record.
Thus, he couldn’t help but find a bit of irony in the Pirates being in a second place.
“We’re 30 games over .500 and we’re not even leading our division,” Ramirez said. “That’s pretty tough.”
–Left-hander J.A. Happ (3-1, 1.98 ERA) had another fine outing, giving up only one run in 5 2/3 innings, scattering five hits while striking out two and walking one.
“He pitched through some traffic but was able to get some big outs,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.
Happ has allowed just two runs in 23 innings over his last four starts, going 3-0 with a 0.78 ERA.
That came after a shaky Pirates’ debut in which he lost to the Chicago Cubs on Aug. 4 at PNC Park, allowing four runs in 4 1/3 innings. He was also an uninspiring 4-6 with a 4.64 ERA in 21 games with the Mariners.
“It feels good to contribute,” Happ said. “They brought me over to help out in a pennant race and I’m happy to come through. I’ve made a few adjustments, Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"
Photo: David Hague