The Pittsburgh Pirates clinched a return to the postseason for the third straight year on Wednesday night.
The Pirates claimed a 13-7 road win over Colorado to seal a wild card pairing. Second baseman Neil Walker launched a home run and notched six RBI. Reliever Tony Watson got the win in relief after pitching the eighth. The Pirates gave him six runs in the top of the ninth before allowing a run in the bottom half of the frame.
The NL Central leading St. Louis Cardinals became the first team to clinch entry into the postseason over the weekend. Their magic number to win the division over the Pirates, with both teams looking at ten games remaining, is seven. The Cubs remain in the divisional (and wild card) hunt but St. Louis merely needs needs any combination of Cardinals wins and Chicago losses that adds to four to eliminate their rivals to the north from the top of the NL Central.
The Pirates started the season 18-22. Since May 20, they boast a 74-38 record. Last night’s victory makes five straight.
“It’s much better to drink the champagne than prepare for the offseason with a week-and-a-half to go,” Walker told reporters after his monster night. “I take great honor of being from the area and growing up with the team and seeing how far we’ve come. It’s no surprise to me where we’re at. Trust me, we don’t forget where we were. Losing 105 games [in 2010] is something you can’t quite explain. It’s not fun at all.”