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.
The Red Sox and Mariners left nothing on the table Friday night, going head-to-head in a series opener that eventually ended 14-10 in the Sox’ favor. Led by Steven Wright and Wade LeBlanc — neither of whom made it past the fifth inning — the teams combined for 34 hits and four home runs, including two moonshots from Seattle’s Nelson Cruz and a five-run rally that gave Boston the edge in the seventh.
In the sixth inning, however, the Red Sox were still scrambling to make up a four-run deficit. Left fielder J.D. Martinez cut it in half with one swing, pouncing on an 89.5-mph fastball from Seattle right-hander Nick Vincent and posting it to dead center field for a two-run shot.
The 427-foot blast was Martinez’s 23rd of the season, tying Mike Trout for the most home runs in the league this year. While he still has a ways to go before eclipsing the career-best 45-HR mark he set in 2017, he’s off to a strong start this season: Entering Friday’s game, the 30-year-old slugger was batting .315/.386/.623 with a 1.009 OPS and AL-leading 55 RBI in 308 PA. He finished Friday’s game 4-for-5 with five RBI, just one triple shy of hitting for the cycle.
Heading into the All-Star Break, both Martinez and Trout still have some competition for the home run title. Jose Ramirez is sitting at 22 homers, while Nelson Cruz and Khris Davis are tied at 20 apiece.