21 not allowed: After creating such promise by soaring 16 games above .500 as recently as two months ago, the Pittsburgh Pirates crashed back to Earth again. On Sunday, they lost their 82nd game, falling 4-3 to the Reds to ensure the Bucs would finish with a losing record for the 20th straight season. Sunday also marked the 40th anniversary of Roberto Clemente's 3,000th career hit. Clemente, of course, wore No. 21. For the Pirates to be losers again next season, it would mean 21 straight years of futility. They wouldn't dare, right?
In the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, columnist Dejan Kovacevic says team owner Bob Nutting promises an investigation, and no matter what he finds, he can't allow the Pirates to be losers again in 2013. That means big changes, even if it involves replacing GM Neal Huntington, manager Clint Hurdle or the lot of them:
Listen to this quote from Huntington on his radio show eight days ago: "There are a lot of really good baseball people in the industry who feel very differently than our fans do about what we're accomplishing."
Does that sound like a group open-minded to big change?
One that's so insular, so arrogant in its thinking that the head of baseball operations publicly expresses that the Pirates' fans aren't savvy enough to grasp the nuances of the team's successes?
After five years, all it takes is a copy of the standings, right?
You, and you, and you: Three teams punched their postseason tickets — the Orioles, Rangers and Yankees — thanks to a loss by the Los Angeles Angels, who split a doubleheader against Texas. That doesn't mean the Angels are eliminated, just that they'd need a lot of help to overtake the Athletics and Rays. How much help? Here's a postseason possibility primer to help you figure it out.
[MLB Full Count: Watch live look-ins and highlights for free all season long]
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Quote of the Day:
"Everyone's pretty ticked off about it" — Pirates slugger Garrett Jones, on another losing season.
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Photo of the Day: Who's pumped for A's-Rangers tonight? Other than Grant Balfour?
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Three Facts for the Water Cooler
• The Braves set a major league record, winning for the 23rd straight time when Kris Medlen started a game. The streak actually began in 2010, and has been interrupted by a move to the bullpen and recovery from Tommy John elbow surgery. And a couple of winters.
• Two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum finished the regular season with a 5.18 ERA and 23 homers allowed, personal highs.
• The A's have 20 homers over their past nine games and 110 since the All-Star break, tops in the majors. Yoenis Cespedes went deep in Oakland's 5-2 victory against Seattle.
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