Cole's stellar start gives Pirates' elusive 82nd victory
By Rob Biertempfel
Published: Monday, Sept. 9, 2013, 10:48 p.m.
ARLINGTON, Texas — The owners changed. The coaches changed. The players changed. But the losing — 20 consecutive seasons of it — did not change until Monday night, when the Pirates beat the Texas Rangers, 1-0.
The Pirates' 82nd win of the year ended the longest streak of losing seasons among North American pro sports teams.
“I've never suffered through anything for 20 years,” said rookie right-hander Gerrit Cole, who tossed seven brilliant innings for the victory. “I don't think there's anybody in here who has. We're just all happy we can bring a smile to people's faces. They can wake up tomorrow, read the newspaper and see ‘82,' and they should embrace it. They should love it.”
On Sept. 12, 1992, the setting of the Pirates' previous winning season, Cole was 2 years old. Alex Rodriguez hadn't yet been drafted. The expansion teams in Colorado, Arizona, Tampa Bay and Miami didn't yet exist. And now-defunct Trans World Airlines was still flying into the sparkling new Pittsburgh International Airport.
“I didn't realize it had been that long until I got here,” said veteran shortstop Clint Barmes, who is in his second season with the Pirates. Barmes played the previous nine years with Colorado and Houston.
“It's great to break that streak and bring that to the city of Pittsburgh,” Barmes said. “But it would mean more to go to the playoffs and bring home a ring. That's the mindset in this clubhouse, and that's where we believe we can be.”
Last year, the Pirates seemed poised to end their losing skid. They were 16 games over .500 on Aug. 1 but won only 19 of their final 58 games.
“We've had a lot of years of losing,” center fielder Andrew McCutchen said. “It feels like a dream almost.”
This season the club again got off to a hot start and has been in either first or second place in the NL Central every day since June 21. Another epic collapse does not seem likely, which makes win No. 82 just another step toward a playoff berth.
“It's one of the mile markers along the way to where we anticipate going,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “We've got vision that goes past that.”
It's fitting that two homegrown players — Cole and third baseman Pedro Alvarez, both former first-round draft picks — were instrumental in producing No. 82.
Cole scattered three singles over seven innings and racked up a career-high nine strikeouts. Alvarez delivered the winning hit.
The Pirates weren't able to crack Rangers ace Yu Darvish until the seventh inning. With two outs, Marlon Byrd lined a double to left field. Alvarez fouled off three tough pitches, then stroked an RBI double to center.
“It's not very comfortable, facing (Darvish),” Alvarez said. “He throws a lot of pitches for strikes and changes speeds on you. You just have to stay as focused as you can because he can really get you off balance.”
The Alvarez RBI snapped Darvish's streak of 192⁄3 scoreless innings in interleague games. He left the game after the seventh inning because of cramping in his right leg.
From the start, Cole (7-7) had more fire on his fastball than Darvish (12-8). Cole humped it up to 98 mph in the first inning, when Elvis Andrus stared at a four-seamer for strike three.
The curveball also was effective, especially when Cole kept it down in the zone. Ian Kinsler, Mitch Moreland and Jim Adduci (twice) went down flailing at curves in the dirt. Adduci strained his biceps when he whiffed in the fifth and was replaced by David Murphy.
Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates claim 3 pitchers in minor league Rule 5 draft
- Pirates agree with Barmes on 1-year deal
- Pirates not yet talking extensions with Alvarez, Walker
- Pirates sign free agent pitcher Volquez
- First base options thinning as winter meetings go on
- Pirates general manager Huntington is searching for right player, deal
- Pirates will shop while starting pitcher Burnett makes his decision
- Pirates notebook: Huntington narrows team’s offseason targets
- Pirates get pitcher, outfielder in trade; Jones walks plank
- Breaking down the Pirates’ needs entering winter meetings
- Pirates sign Morton to 3-year extension