For 20 miserable seasons the Pittsburgh Pirates were the losingest losers in American pro sports. No more. Not after Monday night, when the Bucs beat the Texas Rangers 1-0 and won their 82nd game of the season.
In doing so, the Pirates clinched their first winning season since 1992, back in the Barry Bonds/Andy Van Slyke era. The winning season isn't quite a surprise. The Pirates are one of the top teams in the National League this year, almost certainly playoff-bound. The only question, really, was when they'd reach win No. 82. Pittsburgh had sat on 81 for four games, including a three-game weekend sweep by the NL Central-rival St. Louis Cardinals.
To bust that losing streak, the Pirates turned on Monday to a young star who was 2 years old the last time the Pirates were winners. That's Gerrit Cole, their top young pitcher, who pitched seven innings of three-hit, zero-run ball. He struck out nine and got the win in his best start since joining the Pirates in July.
The Pirates had to beat a Cy Young-caliber pitcher to notch No. 82, Yu Darvish of the Texas Rangers. He was his usual tough-to-hit self, but the Pirates got their lone run in the seventh inning when Marlon Byrd doubled then Pedro Alvarez knocked him home with another double.
When the final out of Monday's game was recorded — Neil Walker tossing A.J. Pierzynski out on a grounder to second base — Pirates star Andrew McCutchen opened his arms wide in the outfield, as if he were thanking a higher power. He knew what this meant to his franchise, to its fans.
"Pirates fans, your long national nightmare is over," Pirates TV announcer Greg Brown said.
But this year's Pirates have their eyes set on something bigger than just a winning season. And that dream is not over. In fact, it's getting even more exciting. Ain't that right, Pirates fans?
— Bob Nutting (@NotBobNutting) September 10, 2013