Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

20 and Counting Pirates: Another Year of a Losing Record Worst Season of Losing Run

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

20 and Counting Pirates: Another Year of a Losing Record Worst Season of Losing Run

Article excerpt

It became official at 4:41 p.m. Sunday when Pirates outfielder Starling Marte struck out against Cincinnati Reds closer Aroldis Chapman, just moments after Jose Tabata was thrown out at third base for the first out of the ninth inning after being brainlessly waved over by coach Nick Leyva. Somehow, it seemed appropriate that the Reds assured the Pirates of a mind-numbing 20th consecutive losing season by rallying with two runs in the ninth off hammer Joel Hanrahan and inflicting a 4-3 defeat at PNC Park. The Reds dumped on the Pirates all season, from Chapman apparently throwing at Andrew McCutchen's head Aug. 3 to Brandon Phillips unconscionably insinuating that Jared Hughes is a racist Sept. 10 to Homer Bailey pitching a no-hitter against them Friday night, the first against the franchise in 41 years.

Though another losing season almost seemed inevitable as August turned into September -- the Pirates have gone 14-35 since Aug. 8 -- the finality of at least 82 losses still is surreal. The Pirates went from talking about winning the National League Central Division to making the playoffs as a wild card to ...

"Unfortunately, it all got away from us," manager Clint Hurdle said.

We all know the reasons for one of the worst collapses in baseball history. The starting pitching, so good for four-plus months, stunk down the stretch. If you want to blame one guy the most, blame James McDonald. The bullpen, just as good as the starters through the first week of August, stunk down the stretch. If you want to blame one guy the most, blame Jason Grilli. The offense, which hit lights out in June and July, stunk down the stretch. If you want to blame one guy the most, blame McCutchen. Sure, that's unfair in a lot of ways because -- big picture -- the man is having a tremendous season. But, for the most part, he stopped hitting home runs and driving in runs in the second half. His walk-off home run Saturday night is a classic example of too little, too late.

The big question today is this:

Where does this season rank among the 19 before it in terms of futility, failure and -- most of all -- frustration?

I'm thinking it's the worst.

Not that there aren't a lot of other legitimate candidates.

In no particular order:

* 2009: The Pirates lost 99 games and probably were spared loss No. 100 when their Oct. 1 game against the Chicago Cubs was rained out and cancelled. Who says the baseball gods are against the franchise?

* 2010: The Pirates went 57-105, their most losses since 1952. Manager John Russell was fired after three seasons and a 186-299 record. To this day, no one in the organization can explain why he was hired in the first place. It certainly wasn't his personality.

* 2007: The Pirates drafted pitcher Daniel Moskos instead of catcher Matt Wieters in the first round of the amateur draft. …

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