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.
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw entered Wednesday night’s start against the Marlins without having issued a walk in his previous three starts. In fact, his last walk came on April 3 when he issued a free pass to Paul Goldschmidt with the bases empty and two outs in the bottom of the first inning. All told, Kershaw was on a streak of 26 walk-less innings before he took the mound at home to take on the Marlins.
Kershaw started off Wednesday in character, striking out the side in the first inning. He issued a walk in a tough second inning, but escaped without allowing a run. Kershaw walked two more in the third and again danced out of danger. In the fourth, Kershaw walked Lewis Brinson to load the bases with no outs and — you guessed it — didn’t end up allowing a run. His errant control finally came back to bite him in the fifth when Kershaw issued back-to-back two-out walks, then served up a three-run home run to Miguel Rojas down the left field line. His night was done when he completed the inning. Five innings, three runs, five hits, six walks, seven strikeouts, 112 pitches.
The six walks Kershaw issued over five innings marked his first six-walk outing since April 7, 2010 when he issued six free passes to the Pirates in 4 2/3 innings. The only other time he walked as many was on August 3, 2009 against the Brewers in a four-plus inning outing. Kershaw hasn’t even walked five batters in an outing recently — the last time was September 23, 2012 against the Reds.