Morning Rewind, 9/24: Pirates make it three straight playoff appearances
By JOHN DORN
For a time -- a very long time -- the Pittsburgh Pirates weren't just bad. They were downright depressing. As recently as 2012, they were mired in a 20-year run of missing out on the playoffs, finishing in last or next-to-last place in 12 of those years.
So call this an attempt at compensating.
Pittsburgh clinched its third consecutive postseason berth on Wednesday, locking up at least a Wild Card seed and improving their record to 92-60 -- the second-best record in all of baseball.
In a 13-7 Coors Field-style slugfest, Neil Walker drove in six runs while Sean Rodriguez also contributed with a pinch-hit, bases-loaded double in the top of the ninth to break it open.
The Pirates are likely headed for their third straight appearance in the NL Wild Card Game, where they've gone 1-1 since the round's inception. They haven't advanced past the NLDS since 1992.
A bout with the Chicago Cubs -- the division's and the entire league's third-best team -- seems likely. The St. Louis Cardinals have a four-game cushion in the Central, setting up a one-game playoff between baseball's second- and third-best teams for a chance to play their division winner in the NLDS. It seems like a raw deal, but after decades of hurt, the Pirates will surely take what they can get.
Around the League
LAA 6, HOU 5
They've fallen hard, they've fallen fast, and they're now three games back of the Texas Rangers in the AL West. After entering September 73-59, Houston has gone 7-14 this month, and is on the verge of falling out of the Wild Card race. They're a game up on Minnesota for the final Wild Card spot.
BAL 4, WSH 3
In case anybody forgot about Jonathan Papelbon's temper, the Nationals closer flared up again last night, in one of the more brainless episodes you'll see on the mound. With his team losing by a run in the ninth inning -- with the opportunity to cut the Mets' division lead to 5.5 games -- Papelbon intentionally threw at Manny Machado's head twice, and was immediately ejected.
TOR 4, NYY 0
Ivan Nova kept the Yankees in the game over his 5.2 innings, allowing just four hits and one run, but Marcus Stroman's dominance on the mound was too much to handle. The Yanks now sit 3.5 games back of Toronto in the division.
ATL 6, NYM 3
It's not at 2007 proportions just yet, but the Mets need to start winning games if they want talks of a collapse to fully dissipate. They've seen a 9.5-game lead turn into a 6.5-game advantage, but luckily the Nats weren't able to take advantage.
MIL 4, CHC 1
With the Pirates winning, Chicago needed a victory to stay within two games of the first Wild Card spot, but they couldn't keep up. Zach Davies shut the Cubs out through his six frames and Frankie Rodriguez earned his 35th save of the season.
MIN 4, CLE 2
The nail has just about been hammered into the Indians' playoff coffin, as they dip to two games below .500 and are now seven games back of the Astros for a playoff position.
STL 10, CIN 2
Despite a Pirates surge, it's appearing more and more likely that the Cardinals will take home their third consecutive division title.
TEX 10, OAK 3
With another convincing victory, the Rangers seem destined for the postseason in a year that seemed hopeless over the summer. Adrian Beltre and Elvis Andrus drove in three runs each in the victory.
- LAD 4, ARI 1
- SD 5, SF 4
- KC 4, SEA 3
- DET 7, CWS 4
- MIA 4, PHI 3
- TB 6, BOS 2
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