The regular season for the Pittsburgh Pirates is almost over, and it’s time to take a look back at the top ten moments and games of the Pirates season thus far. With only nine games remaining before the playoffs start, there were a lot of different moments to choose from when it came to making this list. So without further adieu, here is Rum Bunter’s list of the top ten moments and games for the Pirates 2013 regular season:
10. Pirates vs. Tigers: May 28th
The offense was in a little bit of a slump, and the Bucs were tied with the Tigers in the tenth inning, when Neil Walker hit a solo home run to give the Pirates the lead. While Walker’s homer seemed to be the most exciting part of the game, the bottom of the 11th ended up being the best part. Jason Grilli, who was a perfect 20 for 20 at the time, was facing the heart of the Tigers order in hopes of nailing down his 21st save. Grilli was the best closer in the league, and had a shot to really prove himself as the Bucs closer, and he didn’t look back once when it came to doing that. Facing off against arguably the best 3-4-5 hitter combination in the league, Grilli struck out Torii Hunter, Miguel Cabrera, and Prince Fielder all in order to close the game out, which led to his patented fist pump.
9. Pirates vs. Reds, Cardinals, Braves: April 12th – April 21st
Less than a week after being 1-5 and getting swept in Los Angeles, the Bucs returned home for their first multiple-series home stand of the season. The best series of the home stand was the first one, which was played against the Cincinnati Reds. Andrew McCutchen was the hero in the first game, great pitching led the Bucs to a victory in the second game, and the Pirates pulled off a great comeback in game three to complete the sweep. In the eighth inning of the series finale, the Bucs trailed 6-4. Michael McKenry hit a two-run homer to tie it up, and not long after that, Starling Marte hit a two-run bomb to give the Pirates the lead. After that series, the Pirates split a two-game series against the Cardinals, and took three of four from the Atlanta Braves who, at the time, were the hottest team in the MLB. The Bucs hit the road red hot after a 7-2 home stand against three of the best teams in the National League.
8. Pirates vs. Reds: June 2nd
After two tough losses to start the weekend home series against the Cincinnati Reds, the Bucs fell down early to the Reds by a score of 4-0. They fought their way back and tied it up in the bottom of the eighth on a two-run homer from Garrett Jones. While the homer was huge and tied the game up, it will always be remembered for being the second ball ever hit into the Allegheny River on a fly. It was the first time a Pirate ever did it, and is something fans won’t forget from this season. The game went to extra innings, and was ended in the 11th inning on a Travis Snider walk off RBI single. On top of the two big hits from Jones and Snider, the bullpen came up huge dealing ten scoreless innings.
7. Pirates vs. Mets: July 12th
The Mets came to PNC for a three-game series to close out the first half of the season. Just a few days before the series started, Mets captain David Wright chose the National League Home Run Derby participants, which did not included Pirates slugger Pedro Alvarez. Due to an injury to Carlos Gonzalez, Alvarez was selected to replace him, but fans still did not forgive Wright for originally passing on El Toro. When Alvarez entered the box in his first at-bat of the game in the Friday night showdown against the Mets, he launched a two-run home run on the first pitch he saw, and PNC Park was out of control thanks to Alvarez’s homer. The game went to extra innings, and Mercer was able to walk it off for the Pirates on a RBI single in the bottom of the 11th.
6. Pirates vs. Marlins 3-game series: August 6th – August 8th
The Marlins came to town for a three-game set in early August and were swept by the Pirates, as the Bucs squeaked out three hard fought victories in the series. The first win came on the shoulders of an unlikely hero in Josh Harrison. The Bucs blew many opportunities as the game went on, and Harrison ended it all in the bottom of the ninth with his first career walk off home run. Charlie Morton pitched well and Andrew McCutchen homered in the second game of the series to help give the Pirates a series win, and the Bucs completed the sweep on a Wednesday afternoon in the 10th inning of the game, as Russell Martin was the hero yet again for the Bucs driving in the winning run.
5. Nine-game win streak: June 20th – June 30th
The Bucs played some of their best ball in late June, as they finished the month with a nine-game winning streak. After winning the final game of a four-game set in Cincinnati, the Bucs swept the Los Angeles Angels, Seattle Mariners, and Milwaukee Brewers to give them nine consecutive victories. The ninth win completed the sweep of the Brewers, as Russell Martin won the game in the 14th inning of the Sunday game, picking up a walk off single.
4. Pirates vs. Brewers (win number 81): September 3rd
September 3rd, 2013 is a night that the majority of Pirate fans will never forget. It was the night they won their 81st game of the season, and ended their streak of 20 straight losing seasons. Outside of PNC Park, there couldn’t have been a better place for the Pirates to win their 81st game than Miller Park. McCutchen had an early inning home run, but the real hero for the Pirates victory was Travis Snider, who hit a solo home run in the top of the ninth to give the Pirates a 5-4 lead, which was eventually closed out by Mark Melancon. Fans were beyond relieved after the game, and all the fans that stuck through 20 years of embarrassment couldn’t believe the streak was finally over.
3. Pirates vs. Rangers 3-game series:
The Pirates came into their September series against the Rangers on a rough patch. After picking up win #81 against the Milwaukee Brewers a week earlier, the Bucs lost four straight games, including being swept in St. Louis, before entering their interleague series against the Rangers. The first game of the series was a pitchers dual that the Pirates came out on top, as Gerrit Cole outdueled Rangers ace, Yu Darvish. The win gave them their 82nd of the season, giving them their first winning season since 1992. McCutchen had a big hit in game two and Barmes was the hero in game three, and the Bucs completed a three-game sweep of the Rangers just a few days after losing horribly in St. Louis.
2. Pirates vs. Cardinals 5-game series: July 27th – August 1st
The four games in late July against the St. Louis Cardinals proved that the 2013 Pittsburgh Pirates were for real. Their wins came in all kinds of different fashions: a blowout, a walk off, a shutout, and a come from behind win. The Pirates went into the series in second place in the division, but once the series was over, stood atop the NL Central. Liriano, Burnett, and even Brandon Cumpton all contributed with big outings, and huge hits were brought to the dish from Alvarez, McCutchen, and Martin. They did lose the fifth game of the series to the Cards, but there’s still no denying that the four wins were four great memories for the Bucs in 2013.
1. “The Gerrit Cole Game” – June 11th
June 11th, 2013 was one of my favorite days ever at PNC Park. Watching Gerrit Cole make his debut is something I will never forget. He pitched very well, and even helped himself out driving in two runs in his first career at-bat. When Cole struck out Gregor Blanco to start the game, it was the loudest I have ever heard PNC Park, and after his two-run single, the place just about exploded. Pedro Alvarez contributed with a two-run bomb in the later innings, and I don’t remember a game this season that I enjoyed more than Gerrit Cole’s major league debut.
5/3 – Jordy Mercer’s game winning homer in his first game of season against the Nationals.
5/11 – Francisco Liriano’s Pirates debut against the Mets.
5/14 – Andrew McCutchen’s walk off home run in the bottom of the 12th against the Brewers.
5/17 – Pedro Alvarez’s river chasing home run, along with Russell Martin’s walk off hit on an Astros error.
5/21 – Travis Snider’s game winning grand slam against the Cubs.
6/15 – Brandon Cumpton’s first major league inning, which consisted of striking out the side against the Dodgers.
6/18 – A game after McCutchen was hit and Walker had a ball thrown at his head, Morton hitting Shin-Soo Choo on the first pitch of the game against the Reds.
June 2013 – The biogenesis list being released, and Pirate fans finding out that not only were no Pirates on the list, but Ryan Braun was finally accused and later suspended for the remainder of his season.
July 2013 – Andrew McCutchen, Jeff Locke, Mark Melancon, and Pedro Alvarez being picked to the 2013 National League All-Star team, along with Alvarez participating in the Home Run Derby.
8/18 – Despite being credited with the loss, Kris Johnson’s five scoreless innings of relief in his major league debut.
8/28 – Marlon Byrd’s two-run homer in his Pirate debut against the Brewers.
9/13 – Pedro Alvarez, Russell Martin, and Garrett Jones’ three consecutive home runs against the Cubs.
Well, there’s our list. Similar to any other list, there will be some disagreement on rankings and snubs. There’s still nine games left before the playoffs start, and hopefully there are some memories in the playoffs for the Bucs. Until then, we hope you enjoyed our list, and it helped you remember some of the key parts of an unbelievable and unforgettable season for the 2013 Pittsburgh Pirates. Make sure you join the discussion though! What should have made the top ten? What do you disagree on? What’s your personal favorite moment? Let us know in the comments!