Pirates' 1-0 Win at Texas Clinches Winning Season
Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle had no special message for his team and there was no big celebration after what was a special victory for their long-suffering fans.
With their 1-0 victory at Texas on Monday night, the Pirates clinched their first winning season since 1992. But 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," Hurdle said. "Everybody's here for a reason, and that's to knock down things we haven't done in a long time."
Before rookie right-hander Gerrit Cole (7-7) threw seven scoreless innings with a career-high nine strikeouts to win a pitcher's duel against Yu Darvish, the Pirates hadn't had a winning season in more than two decades — since the last of their three consecutive NL championship series appearances under manager Jim Leyland. Their last postseason before that was the 1979 World Series championship team.
"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, the 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.
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