For the first time since the 1992 season the Pirates are guaranteed to finish with at least a non-losing record. Now it would be pretty amazing for them to lose every game from here on out to finish 81-81 and while a lot of people are more focused on the 82nd win this one I think is the sister of that significant win.
Most of you know how I feel about breaking "the streak" but I don't think anyone can really ignore that this is a nice piece to the puzzle. I was only seven years old the last time the Pirates had a winning record and were in the playoffs and those memories are obviously fuzzy. There is still a lot of baseball left and the Pirates are going to win more than 90 games, maybe 95, but I think it was awesome that the Pirates broke the streak in this fashion. By that I mean it is one thing to be a .500 team on one of the final games of the season but it is another to do it in the middle of a pennant race where you are leading the NL Central. It's pretty cool. Like I said this isn't the end of the line and there shouldn't be parades, but this has been a long time coming.
It seems like the details of this game are really going to escape most people. To be honest this was pretty much the Andrew McCutchen show. In the first inning he mashed a home run to left-center and then singled and scored in the third inning to tie the game. Best part about both of those hits were that they came with two outs and nobody on. He blistered the ball all over the field and even when he didn't put the bat on the ball he was getting on base (via a walk) and scoring. This guy is just on another planet right now.
The guys that followed him were just as important. Justin Morneau and Marlon Byrd, both waiver deadline pickups, combined to go 5-for-6. Morneau was on base in all four of his plate appearances and Byrd drove home McCutchen both times he was on base that wasn't a home run. Combined with McCutchen those three had seven of the Pirates eight hits on the day. It isn't really how you want to win games but it counts. OK, I take that back, it doesn't matter how you win games, as long as you win them. But on a more serious note, this is exactly what you wanted from these guys when the Pirates brought them over. I didn't think either was going to be a superstar player but tonight they contributed and made the middle of the lineup better. It won the Pirates a game tonight.
The Pirates other hit came from Travis Snider. Yea, that guy. After the Brewers tied the game in the bottom of the 8th inning Snider led off the ninth inning with a bomb on a seven pitch at bat off Brewers closer Jim Henderson. Snider has been forgotten by many people but this home run really is a reflection on the season. Everyone is contributing this season and Snider showed up in a big spot. Yay winning.
Gerrit Cole was really good tonight. He only went six innings but he allowed only five hits and walked one. The first inning was a little rough for him as he gave up a few runs but he then proceeded to only allow one base runner the rest of the way out. He got into a groove and while the strikeouts weren't coming early they were coming late as he used his assortment of off speed pitches and a 98-mph fastball to mow down a pretty pedestrian Brewers lineup. Oh yea, that 98 was coming in the sixth inning. You know, no big deal.
I still think that there are things that Cole needs to work on and improve but you also need to remember that he is still not even 23 years old and is probably getting a little worn down by a career-high in innings and before we really get too deep into anything about him I think we need to see a good bit of him next year. Besides all that it was a really good outing for Cole and a big improvement from his last outing which was really good to see.
So, 81 wins with a chance for 82 tomorrow. All part of the grander plan but it's nice to take some time to smell the roses and reflect on how far this team has come. The Cardinals lost today to the Reds so the Pirates are now two up in the division. Pretty awesome.