One of the great things about baseball is the season is 162 games long, spanning nearly a full six months. One of the bad things about baseball is that a six month season is hard to recap in any kind of comprehensive way. The Pittsburgh Pirates 2013 campaign was such a rich reason, that it’s genuinely hard to explain what it meant, but damn it if we aren’t going to try. Here are some of the most memorable (good and bad) moments of this season:
April 1st: The exploding rosin bag. In a relatively bland opening day game that the Pirates lost 3-1 to the Cubs, A.J. Burnett picked up the rosin bag on the mound, and this happened, setting the tone for a 1-5 opening week:
April 18th: First Pedro-bomb of the season. In typical Alvarez form, the big bull took a while to get going out of the gate, but he nearly vaporized the first ball he hit out. For thirty-five other amazing photoshops, GIFs, videos, etc. of all of Alvarez’ home runs, go here.
May 5th: In one of the funniest and worst ump shows of the season, Bryce Harper is ejected after arguing a checked swing(on a pitch that should have been called a strike even if he didn’t swing). The Pirates ultimately dropped the game by a score of 6-2, but Harper’s ejection was one of the true head-scratchers of the season.
May 11th: Francisco Liriano makes his first start of the season. Liriano’s line in the game wasn’t dominant, but he got the job done, giving Pirates fans a glimpse of the kind of dominance they were going to see from him all season.
May 17th: The Pirates beat the Astros on a walkoff popup. The game was tied 4-4, the bases were loaded for Russell Martin. Martin hit a weak fly ball to shallow right field, and Jake Elmore and Jimmy Paredes forgot how to call for a ball in the air. The result was a hilarious Pirates win, with the final score at 5-4.
May 26th: The Pirates win a series in Miller Park (aka the House Of Horrors), making for the first big exorcism of a season full of them. This series was highlighted by Jeff Locke not sucking (or at least being lucky) and some impressive power from Pedro Alvarez.
May 31st: Steve Blass calls Russell Martin’s walkoff hit “kinky”. I would try to describe this, but words seem to fail me in this situation. Steve Blass went full Tobias Fuenke, and blurted this out.
June 11th: Gerrit Cole arrives in Pittsburgh. Cole debuted against the defending champion San Francisco Giants, and he was nothing short of stellar. In one of the best moments at PNC Park in a year full of them, Cole lit it up, going 6.1 innings, giving up two runs on seven hits, and collecting his first big league hit and a pair of RBI at the plate. Mr. Intensity also threw up the scariest Zoltan of the year:
June 20th-June 30th: Pirates go on their longest win streak of the season, totaling nine games. These nine games included a west coast sweep of the Angels and Mariners, and the most see-saw game of the season, when the Pirates beat the Angels 10-9. Take a look at the box score. The win probability and play-by-play are particularly telling.
July 6th-11th: The Pirates lose four games in a row. This was tied for the Pirates longest losing streak of the season, and it showed a lot of the holes that ultimately did in the Pirates in the NLDS against the Cardinals. Everybody panicked, sure that this was the start of another collapse. Liriano showed up like the stopper he was all season, and cut the skid short, defeating the A’s 5-0.
July 15th-18th: The Pirates send five representatives to the All-Star game in New York: Alvarez, Grilli, Locke, McCutchen, and Melancon (who was added to the roster as a replacement). Since Mark was a late roster addition, while his teammates flew to New York, he took a Dodge Caravan to the game:
July 22nd-July 25th: The Pirates took three of four from the Nationals in a series featuring Andrew McCutchen being Andrew McCutchen, Gerrit Cole dominating the Nationals, and Jason Grilli’s elbow injury. Grilli’s injury could have sunk the team, but the “Shark Tank” stepped up in his absence. Tony Watson dominated in the second half, and Mark Melancon was awesome (despite a couple of tough outings towards the end).