The streak is over! On Tuesday night, the Pittsburgh Pirates pulled out a 4-3 road win against the Milwaukee Brewers to earn their 81st win of the 2013 season. In doing so, the franchise clinched its first non-losing record in 20 years.
The Pirates last posted a winning record in 1992 when they went 96-66 and won the National League East, before losing to the Atlanta Braves in the National League Championship Series.
Pittsburgh snuck by the Brewers on Tuesday night thanks to a solo home run from pinch-hitter Travis Snider in the top of the ninth inning with the game tied 3-3. The win was also important because it gave the Pirates a two game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central.
With the recently-acquired duo of Justin Morneau and Marlon Byrd now in town to bolster the lineup, the Pirates look like one of the more dangerous teams in baseball as we begin the September run to the playoffs. With outstanding young guys like Andrew McCutchen, Pedro Alvarez and Starling Marte also sprinkled throughout the lineup, and a savvy veteran like Russell Martin behind the plate, the Bucs certainly have their eyes on more than just a winning record.
All season the Pirates have leaned on their outstanding pitching. Starters like Francisco Liriano (15-6, 2.57 ERA), Jeff Locke (9-4, 3.22) and A.J. Burnett (7-9, 3.09, 172 strikeouts) have set the tone for the rest of the staff. In the bullpen, closer Jason Grilli (who was just activated off the disabled list) has been outstanding as well, saving 30 games and posting an ERA of 2.34.
If the Pirates are going to make a run in the playoffs, it will be on the strength of their rotation and bullpen.
The Pirates are definitely the feel good story of the 2013 Major League Baseball season. The fact that they have finally broken through after 20 years of futility should give hope to fans throughout baseball. Good for them and good for the fans in Pittsburgh.