The Times West Virginian

Pirates

October 4, 2012

Pirates end ’12 season with whimper

PITTSBURGH — Don’t blame history. Don’t blame 19 years of bad mojo. Clint Hurdle and the Pittsburgh Pirates don’t want to hear it.

Following a 4-0 loss to Atlanta on Wednesday that left with the Pirates with a 79-83 record that extended their ignominious streak of under-.500 seasons to an even 20 in a row, the straight-talking manager offered no excuses about another promising summer gone awry.

“We needed to win more games,” he said. “Our goal was to win more games.”

Something the Pirates didn’t do enough of down the stretch. Pittsburgh was 62-46 on Aug. 8 before fading to a 17-37 finish.

A lot of the losses looked like their four-hit performance in the finale. The Pirates could muster little offensively against a steady stream of Atlanta pitchers — including the retiring Ben Sheets — and offer little support of starter A.J. Burnett (16-10), who gave up four runs in 5 2-3 innings.

“You have to try and take some positives from it,” said centerfield Andrew McCutchen, who had one hit in the finale to finish second behind San Francisco’s Buster Posey for the NL batting title with a .327 average. “Every year is hard to take when you don’t end up where you want to be. Every year is tough.”

This one, perhaps, tougher than most.

The Pirates were the talk of baseball over the summer behind a pitching staff that flourished behind Burnett, who embraced the roll of ace the team desperately needed. He won eight straight decisions in the spring but tailed off over the final two months and couldn’t avoid his fifth loss in his six starts, though he exited to a warm ovation.

“I thought he had an exceptional season,” Hurdle said of Burnett. “He took ownership of the trade, the career, the opportunity to re-ignite himself.”

Something the playoff-bound Braves know a little bit about. Jason Heyward singled twice and scored two runs and Luis Avilan (1-0) picked up the victory but the day belonged to a pair of veterans making one last stand.

Third baseman Chipper Jones provided a dose of magic in his final regular season game while Sheets went down throwing in his last major league appearance.

A large number of Atlanta fans showed up to bid the retirement-bound Jones farewell, though it appeared their only glimpse of Jones would come when he handed the lineup card to umpires. The 40-year-old planned on sitting out a second straight game to get some rest before the playoffs, but was inserted as a pinch hitter leading off the sixth.

The switch-hitting Jones didn’t waste any time. Standing in as a left-hander against Burnett, Jones slapped the first pitch he saw to right field for a single for the 2,726th and final regular-season hit of his career. Jones stuck around to eventually score on a single by Brian McCann that put Atlanta up 3-0.

“I’d like to thank A.J. for coming right at me,” Jones said with a laugh.

That was more than enough to send the Braves into the postseason on an up note and send Sheets out a winner in his final game.

The four-time All-Star was in the midst of an admirable comeback from a series of arm injuries this summer — going 4-4 with a 3.54 ERA — before heading to the disabled list in August with right shoulder issues.

He announced earlier this week he had no plans on sticking around for the postseason, but eagerly accepted a chance to walk into retirement on his own terms after the Braves opted to rest scheduled starter Tim Hudson.

Sheets had little trouble during his one inning of work, striking out Starling Marte and McCutchen, the final pitch of his career a 96 mph fastball McCutchen couldn’t get his bat on.

““It felt great,” Sheets said. “It was as good as anything I could probably draw up.”

Sheets will watch Atlanta’s postseason run on television and has no plans to try and grab a bullpen job somewhere next year, saying only “dude, I’m good.”

So are the 94-win Braves, who are heading into the postseason with some momentum after a stunning collapse last fall forced them to watch the playoffs on television.

Instead of swooning down the stretch this year, they’ve surged. Atlanta is 20-10 since Sept. 1.

“A little bit different than last year as I recall,” Jones said. “I think we’ll look back on (last) September as a learning experience. No better example of that than the way we played this September.”

 

1
Text Only
Pirates
  • Pirates beat Rockies 5-3 for 3-game sweep

    Andrew McCutchen hit a tiebreaking single in the seventh inning, Neil Walker followed with a home run and the Pittsbugh Pirates overcame a three-run deficit to beat the Colorado Rockies 5-3 Sunday for a three-game sweep.

    July 20, 2014

  • Pirates rally by Rockies in 11

    Jordy Mercer doubled home Neil Walker with one out in the bottom of the 11th inning to lift the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 3-2 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Saturday night.
    Walker led off the inning with a single against Colorado’s Chad Bettis (0-2), moved to second on a sacrifice bunt, and scored one batter later when Mercer hit a drive deep into the gap in left-center.

    July 20, 2014

  • Pirates rally late, top Rockies, 4-2

    Travis Snider’s pinch-hit double in the eighth scored Neil Walker to spark the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 4-2 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Friday night.
    Walker trotted home when Colorado right fielder Carlos Gonzalez couldn’t track down Snider’s sinking line drive off reliever Matt Belisle (2-5). All-Star Josh Harrison added a sacrifice fly one batter later.

    July 19, 2014

  • Resilient Pirates looking for post All-Star surge

    The Pittsburgh Pirates find themselves in an average, every day — if still heated — pennant race.

    July 18, 2014

  • Jeter, Trout lead AL over NL 5-3 in All-Star game

    Derek Jeter soaked in the adulation from fans and players during one more night on baseball’s national stage, set the tone for the American League with a pregame speech and then delivered two final All-Star hits.
    Mike Trout, perhaps the top candidate to succeed the 40-year-old Yankees captain as the face of the game, seemed ready to assume the role with a tiebreaking triple and later a go-ahead double that earned him MVP honors.

    July 16, 2014

  • NL Central race should be fun

    If you’re a baseball fan, you’re going to want to watch the race for the National League Central division in the second half of the season.

    July 14, 2014

  • Liriano rusty in Pirates’ 6-3 loss

    Francisco Liriano was in trouble often, but it was just one bad pitch that really cost the Pittsburgh left-hander.

    July 13, 2014

  • Pirates drop final game before All-Star break

    Kris Negron hit his first career home run, and All-Star Todd Frazier added a two-run shot as the Cincinnati Reds rolled into the break with a 6-3 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday.

    July 13, 2014

  • McCutchen’s HRs rally Pirates over Reds 6-5 in 11

    The Pirates’ MVP saved them. Twice.
    Andrew McCutchen tied the game with a solo homer in the ninth inning Saturday night, then connected again in the 11th inning, rallying the struggling Pittsburgh Pirates to a 6-5 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.

    July 13, 2014

  • Pirates fall to Reds after late rally

    Brayan Pena’s pinch-hit single in the eighth inning completed another late rally by the Reds, who overcame more injuries on Friday and beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-5 to keep their momentum going toward the All-Star break.

    July 12, 2014

Featured Ads
NDN Sports
House Ads