Pirates lose season finale, notching 13 more losses than 2018
The Pittsburgh Pirates head into the offseason searching for a new voice after firing Clint Hurdle. The Cincinnati Reds may have found theirs during a season that offered tangible proof that years of rebuilding might finally be producing forward momentum.
The evidence came in a 3-1 victory over the Pirates on Sunday. Aristides Aquino finished off two scintillating months by hitting his 19th home run. Brian O’Grady and Alex Blandino went deep, too, to help Tyler Mahle to his first win since May as Cincinnati finished 75-87 under first-year manager David Bell, an eight-win improvement over 2018 and the club’s best record since a 76-86 mark in 2014.
Jose Osuna delivered an RBI single for the Pirates. Trevor Williams (7-9) gave up two runs and five hits in seven innings. Tom Prince managed the Pirates, who parted ways with Hurdle after nine seasons shortly before the game’s first pitch.
The Pirates finished 69-93, a 13-game drop from 2018 and the franchise’s worst mark since losing a major league-worst 105 games in 2010, the year before Hurdle’s arrival.
“We progressed a lot from last year,” said Mahle, who tossed five shutout innings. “I think the team’s only going to get better. I think we’re on the right track.”
Filling in with Trevor Bauer sidelined by an illness, Mahle gave up three hits with five strikeouts to pick up his first victory since May 31, a span of 13 starts.
“I told (Mahle), some results or certain stats do not define a season in our mind,” Bell said. “We felt like it was a strong one and a good step for him. I’m glad he got to finish strong just to take that into the offseason.”
Eugenio Suarez went 0 for 4 to finish with 49 home runs. Michael Lorenzen worked the ninth for his seventh save as Cincinnati won in Pittsburgh for the second time in less than 24 hours after snapping a 12-game losing streak with a 12-inning victory Saturday night.
While Aquino’s pace slowed a bit after hitting 14 home runs in August, he ended the season with 19 home runs and 47 RBIs in 56 games after connecting off Williams in the second. The 25-year-old entered the day tied for ninth among major league rookies in home runs even though he didn’t debut until Aug. 1.
“It’s been very impressive how he’s handled when he’s not hot,” Bell said. “Just steady. He’s really intelligent and has a great way about him. To me, he proved he belongs here. Just the way he handled himself when he was doing great. It’s nice to see him finish strong too.”
The Pirates’ average attendance ticked up to 18,412 in 2019, a slight increase over the 18,316 last year but well off the 30,847 the club averaged when it won 98 games in 2015.
Pirates catcher Steven Baron underwent surgery Sunday to repair a fractured jaw suffered during Saturday night’s 12-inning loss to the Reds. Baron is expected to be ready for spring training.