The 2017 Pittsburgh Pirates season had more than its fair share of ups and downs. So today, let’s take a look back at some of the most memorable wins of the season.
If you’re a Pittsburgh Pirates pessimist, you can check out the list of the top 10 worst losses over at Pittsburgh Sports Report later today. But let’s stay positive for now.
April 9: Pirates 6, Braves 5, 10 innings
There was optimism around the Pittsburgh Pirates coming into the year, but a couple of ugly losses in Boston sombered the mood a tad. Sweeping the Braves at home changed that, with Starling Marte delivering an extra inning walk-off dinger to finish the series. Marte would be hit with an 80 game suspension nine days later, but he came through at least once before he took a seat.
This was also the 100th walk-off in PNC Park history. That’s a cool little fact.
September 4: Pirates 12, Cubs 0
Just a good ol’ fashioned butt whoppin’ at the expense of a heated rival. The Pittsbugh Pirates chased Jake Arrieta after just 2.1 innings and kept piling on from there. Chad Kuhl turned in his best start of the season, striking out a career high eight batters over seven innings. A seven run eighth inning was capped by David Freese homering off outfielder Leonys Martin. It was a game where the Pirates could do no wrong, and Chicago could do no right.
April 14: Pirates 4, Cubs 2
Wrigley Field was a house of horrors in 2016 for the Pirates, going 1-8 while in the “friendly” confines. It was a different story in 2017, and this game set the pace.
Cole muscled through a 114 pitch performance to go six strong innings. He was at 96 pitches entering the sixth, but he had to come out to try to finish another inning because the bullpen was gassed. He succeeded. David Freese went 3-4 with two RBI, and Francisco Cervelli’s sixth inning two run double gave the Pirates the lead for good. The Cubs put five runners on base in the eighth and ninth innings combined, but Felipe Rivero and Tony Watson bent, but didn’t break.
In a long season, games like this could be forgotten. It didn’t have much of an impact on the final standings and there wasn’t a memorable conclusion. This was just a three hour and 15 minute reminder of why we love baseball. Hopefully it gets replayed during the offseason rebroadcasts.
July 14: Pirates 5, Cardinals 2
Josh Bell may have been streaky, but his rookie campaign was overall very encouraging. This was probably his top highlight of the year, hitting his first career walk-off: a home run off of Seung-hwan Oh to pull the Pittsburgh Pirates within a half game of third place. The walk-off was one of three in six days for the Bucs, and like Bell, it was the first time all three players sent the crowd home happy (Adam Frazier on July 16, Max Moroff on July 19).
But more on Moroff in a bit.
July 9: Pirates 14, Cubs 3
On paper, this game should have been a disaster. Kuhl was forced to make an emergency start during his bullpen day. The Cubs were throwing Jon Lester. The bullpen was tired. Everything was working against the Pirates.
Then they scored 10 runs in the first.
The win gave Pirate fans hope that there might be enough fight left in this team to get them back into playoff contention. The next two weeks would be the highlight of the season.
August 6: Pirates 5, Padres 4, 12 innings
“There’s no way he’s done this!” Sean Rodriguez’s walk-off home run in his first game back was one of the highlights of the season. The only thing that may have been better was Greg Brown’s 80-grade call.
September 26: Pirates 10, Orioles 1
There was a quiet understanding going into this game that this could be the final home series of Andrew McCutchen’s Pittsburgh Pirates career. If that’s the case, what a way to go out. McCutchen’s two home run, eight RBI, four run night was one of the best of his career. He also scratched off an item off his bucket list by hitting his first career grand slam. Clint Hurdle pulled McCutchen right before the inning started so he could get one last round of applause from the home crowd. Pirate fans now just have to wait to see if it was his last.
April 15: Pirates 8, Cubs 7
The Pirates and Tyler Glasnow spotted Chicago four runs in the first and came back anyway. Glasnow was able to go five unspectacular innings, but with the bullpen still sucking air, it was good enough. Five different Pirates drove in a run, with McCutchen delivered the deciding blow in the seventh on a three run tater.
The Pirates would go on to sweep the Cubs the next day, but this was the best game of the series. Chicago still took the season series against the Pirates 10-9, but it looks like the Bucs can at least go toe for toe with their division rival.
July 17-July 20: the sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers
Yes, I’m cheating by rolling four games into one, but this is when hype around the team peaked. They did it with pitching, too, only allowing nine runs in the 37 innings played. Felipe Rivero picked up three saves. Moroff recorded the game winning single in game three. Post-game dance parties were on all the players’ Snapchats.
The season was about to take a nosedive, but for a moment, all looked right in the world. If nothing else, this sweep probably cost the Brewers a playoff spot.
August 23: Pirates 1, Dodgers 0, 10 innings
One of the best games league wide. Rich Hill took a perfect game into the ninth, with Trevor Williams matching him pitch for pitch. Josh Harrison eventually broke up the no-hit bid in the 10th with a game winning homer.
It may have been a disappointing season, but for one night, the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the best team in baseball during their best pitched game.
That makes it the best win of the year.