The Pittsburgh Pirates have endured two decades of losing, but even with plenty of games in hand for the remainder of the 2013 MLB season, they secured their first non-losing mark in 21 seasons Tuesday night.
The team's 4-3 victory over the NL Central rival Milwaukee Brewers gave the Pirates their 81st win of the year:
BREAKING: @Pirates snap streak of 20 consecutive losing seasons with 81st win of year.— MLB (@MLB) September 4, 2013
Writer Rafael Rojas C offered up an interesting bit of trivia for the occasion:
"End of the Road" Boyz II Men RT @MarcCarig: Quick, what was the No. 1 song in the nation last time the Pirates clinched a non-losing season— Rafael Rojas C (@rafaelrojasc) September 4, 2013
B/R's MLB lead writer Zachary D. Rymer provided his take on the Pirates and seemingly other accursed baseball franchises:
I've seen the Red Sox win the World Series. I've seen the White Sox win the World Series. Now Pirates at .500. Waiting on you, Cubs.— Zachary D. Rymer (@zachrymer) September 4, 2013
Pinch hitter Travis Snider was the hero of the night, as he went yard in the ninth inning of a tied 3-3 game against Jim Henderson for just his fourth home run of the year. But it was a big one that doubled the Pirates' lead to two games over the St. Louis Cardinals in the division.
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Star center fielder and leading MVP candidate Andrew McCutchen has been at the center of Pittsburgh's stunning turnaround, and he fittingly got his club on the board first. With two outs in the first inning, McCutchen smacked his 18th home run of the year off Yovani Gallardo to give the Pirates the early 1-0 advantage.
However, the Brew Crew plated two runs of their own in the bottom of the inning. Scoring was minimal outside the Pirates' equalizing run in the third, but after the two teams exchanged one run apiece in the eighth, the stage was set for Snider's heroics.
Pittsburgh closer Mark Melancon retired the side in the ninth for his 11th save of the season.
As putrid as the Pirates have been for so long, there was an upward trend the last couple of campaigns, giving hope that a breakthrough could be in order. After going 57-105 in 2010, the club posted records of 72-90 and 79-83 in 2011 and 2012, respectively.
This 2013 club has shocked the baseball world, though, emerging with one of the best records in baseball at 81-57. That can largely be attributed to the team's great pitching, as the Pirates lead the MLB with league lows in ERA (3.17) and opponents' batting average (.236).