82 wins! Pirates clinch first winning season since 1992

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Because nothing can ever be easy for the Pirates their 81st victory of the season last week was followed by four consecutive losses and tonight they matched up against Yu Darvish and the Rangers in Texas.

After six scoreless innings the Pirates scraped together a run off Darvish–with midseason pickup Marlon Byrd doubling and scoring–and three pitchers combined to shut out the Rangers, so go ahead and pop the champagne: Pittsburgh has 82 wins and its first winning season since 1992.

Rookie right-hander and former No. 1 overall pick Gerrit Cole, who out-dueled Darvish with seven scoreless innings, was born in 1990. So yeah, it’s been a while.

After snapping their season-high four-game losing streak the Pirates are 82-61, which puts them 1.0 game back of the idle Cardinals in the NL Central, 1.0 game up on the Reds for homefield advantage in the Wild Card playoff game, and eight games clear of the Nationals for the final playoff spot. Snapping a two-decade streak of losing seasons must feel amazing for the Pirates and their fans right now–and the city of Pittsburgh deserves a great party tonight–but this team no doubt has its sights set on something bigger.

Yoenis Cespedes blames a lack of golf for his early season slump

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Back during the 2015 playoffs the sorts of New York media types who love to find reasons to criticize players for petty reasons decided to criticize Yoenis Cespedes for playing golf the day of a playoff game. The Mets won the series with the Cubs during which the controversy, such as it was, occurred and it was soon dropped.

It was picked back up again in 2016 when Cespedes, while on the disabled list with a strained quad, was seen playing golf. Despite the fact that everyone involved said that golf did not contribute to his injury and that golf would have no impact on his injured quad, it was deemed “a bad look” by a columnist looking to get some mileage out of bashing Cespedes for having a hobby that probably half of all ballplayers share. They did it when he showed off his fancy cars too, by the way, even though just about every ballplayer has a fancy car or three. When you’re a superstar in New York — especially when you’re one with whom the media is not particularly close for various reasons — you’re going to catch hell for seemingly nothing.

Now there’s a new twist to the Cespedes golf saga. Yoenis himself says that his poor start — he’s hitting .195/.258/.354 and leads the league in strikeouts — is due to . . . not enough golf! From the New York Times:

He gave a possible reason for the poor start this weekend: not playing enough golf, a hobby beloved by many baseball players. And, yes, he is serious.

“In previous seasons, one of the things I did when I wasn’t going well was to play golf,” he said after a game on Friday in which he struck out four times but still drove in the go-ahead run in the 12th inning. “This year, I’m not playing golf.”

The story says Cespedes quit golf last summer because he worried that it was contributing to hamstring problems. He’s thinking about going back to it soon, as he thinks it’ll help his swing. Given that he’ll catch hell either way, he may as well do what he wants.