Pirates End the Losing Streak on Travis Snider’s Home Run

81 wins.

Travis Snider hit the go-ahead home run to give the Pirates a 4-3 win. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

Travis Snider hit the go-ahead home run to give the Pirates a 4-3 win. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

The Pirates haven’t reached that level since 1992. And after 20 years of losing, they’ve finally ended the losing streak in the most unlikeliest of ways. Travis Snider came up big in the top of the ninth inning, hitting a solo homer, which was his fourth of the year, and giving the Pirates a 4-3 lead and their eventual streak ending 81st win of the season. Just like it was drawn up when the Brad Lincoln trade was made.

It was ironic that Snider came up big with the pinch hit homer. The only other Pirates to record hits on the night were Andrew McCutchen, Justin Morneau, and Marlon Byrd. The latter two combined to go 5-for-6 with two walks. Byrd was brought in largely because Snider underperformed this year in right field. He was responsible for knocking in two runs, but it was surprisingly Snider who came up with the big hit in the end.

Gerrit Cole had a good start, giving up two runs on five hits and one walk in six innings. Cole has now made 15 starts. 14 of those starts have gone 5+ innings with three or fewer runs. As I mentioned the other night, Cole isn’t a top of the rotation starter yet, but he’s been a very solid #4-5 pitcher. A guy who can give you an average of six innings and 2-3 runs every time out is something any team would take. There were some moments when Cole didn’t look as sharp tonight, and it’s important to note that he has passed his 2012 innings totals. However, with some offensive support, Cole was able to get the job done.

Andrew McCutchen started the scoring for the Pirates, hitting a solo homer in the first inning for the 100th of his career. The Pirates quickly fell behind to Milwaukee 2-1 in the bottom of the first, with Cole getting off to a rough start. He was a bit unfortunate that inning, as he didn’t give up many hard hit balls. McCutchen kept reaching base, picking up a walk and a single. He kept advancing thanks to Justin Morneau, who had a walk and three hits on the night. And McCutchen scored two more times thanks to Marlon Byrd, giving McCutchen all three of the non-Snider runs.

That kind of production is exactly what you want to see from the middle of the order, and something the Pirates haven’t seen a lot this year. Byrd and Morneau won’t continue to go 5-for-6 each night, but they do add a threat behind McCutchen, allowing the Pirates to capitalize on the production from their MVP candidate.

The 81st win ends the losing streak. The next step is win number 82, for the first winning season since 1992. That could come tomorrow, and if it does, it has the added bonus of a sweep over the Brewers in Milwaukee — a team that has tormented the Pirates (especially in Milwaukee) over the last few years. Each win gives Pirates fans a cause for celebration, although they’re both just stops along the way to something bigger. That would be a playoff race, and with tonight’s win and a loss by the St. Louis Cardinals, the Pirates take a two game lead in the NL Central.

Tim Williams

Author: Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • jon6er

    I will give Cole credit for not going in the tank last night after he was charged with two runs that could have easily been only one run or none. He got squeezed on his pitches with Aoki, Marlon (we love having you) Byrd misplayed Segura’s ball to right and while a night piece of hitting by Lucroy, it was still a blooper to shallow right.

    • jon6er

      That would be a “nice” piece of hitting by Lucroy, lol!

  • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 Lee Young

    Still trying to figure out why, with Pie, Jones and Snider on the bench, Hurdle PH with Gaby VERSUS a RHP!!!!

    Hurdle has a lot of strengths as a manager, but game management is not one of them!

    Lefty Foo

    • http://www.facebook.com/chuck.conner.58 Chuck Conner

      Jones hit for Cole in the 6th, and I to would go with Gaby over Pia in that situation.

  • johndw28

    Why would you pinchhit for Barmes at all is what I want to know? He had the best average of any guy on team against Kintzler and your losing his late inning glove. It worked out but I would have let Barmes have a shot. And if you are going to pinchit him why you would bring in Gaby vs a right handed pitcher is beyond me. Not Hurdle’s best moment.

  • Y2JGQ2

    I had the exact same thought. If there are this many of us who see this, its unfortunate that he doesn’t. way to many options to go with gabby here. The only thing i was thinking is that they wanted to keep the righty in there because he had such an extended inning, and he was the best right handed hitter available who wouldn’t force the Brewers hand to bring in the other guy warming up in the pen. Thoughts?

    • johndw28

      I hate to dwell on negative on the morning following such a wonderful, historic achievement and let say I think Hurdle has done some great things in his tenure and deserves credit for turning around morale as much as anything. But really some of his in game decision baffles me and Leadoff has made a post which also came to my mind last night. I think we were very, very fortunate to have Mazzaro get out of that 8th without more damage and Hurdle didn’t seem ready for what I considered very plausible possibilities.

      I also still can’t get out of my mind his reasoning in the last game of the Arizona series where he sacraficed with his only batter who had been crushing Miley that day in Mercer having to know (or at least i hope he knew this would allow them to walk his best hitter) to get to guys who didn’t fare so well vs lefties.

      • Andrew

        I was about to write a very similar comment, then I reloaded the page and I saw all the concurring opinions. Hurdle has earned that Keith Law hashtag. Another questionable decision (although not all on Clint Hurdle) skipping the rehab start for Grilli then waiting to use him in a non-closer role.

        I agree with leadoff’s thought that having more options provides nothing when the decision making is the same; I mean surely Hurdle understands the pinch hitting penalty.

  • moose7195

    I nearly fell out of my chair when Snider crushed that ball. You know its going to be a special season when Travis Snider wins game 81.

  • leadoff

    Why was Vinnie pitching the 8th inning when he had already pitched the 7th? Why was nobody warming up in the pen in the 8th when Vinnie got into trouble which was the 1st batter up? Does Hurdle have a shortage of bullpen pitchers? Is Hurdle making sure he has enough strong pitchers for the December push? Was Hurdle trying to get me to throw something at the big tube? Give Hurdle enough toys and he will eventually play with them all, but give him a bunch of pitchers and he does the opposite!

    • stickyweb

      Well guys, isn’t it obvious? The guy with the 4th best record in MLB with mostly unproven players just wants to keep things interesting. I mean if he could manage a game as well as all of you, the Pirates would have about 110 wins by now and the season would be soooo boring. Just thank him for being completely incompetent and keeping us all still interested in the season. If only he could handle a bullpen as well as you guys, they would have a 0.03 ERA instead of whatever bloated figure they lead the league with.

      You’re actually on track with criticizing the pinch hitting, since it is some of the worst in the league. Of course he had Inge, McHenry and MacDonald as 3/5 of his bench for much of the year, so how well would you actually expect him to do?

      • johndw28

        I’m not a Hurdlebasher- but apparently you see no flawed logic in pinchhitting for Barmes given all the factors mentioned above?

        • stickyweb

          I don’t see any logical flaws in ever pinch hitting for Barmes at this point in his career. I like that he’s apparently taken to the role of part timer, as he looks better now than he has in the last year and a half. But unless he’s putting a relief pitcher in to pinch hit, I’ll take just about anybody over Barmes. And I think the difference in defense is overstated at this point. He’s marginally better than Mercer, but not by much. You’re putting a lot of faith in 3 prior hits against Kinztler. Maybe Hurdle remebers one was a swinging bunt and another squibbed through the infield. I don’t know, but I know that Hurdle knows the players a lot better than we do.

      • Andrew

        Outcomes versus process; simply stating the results are good thus decision making must be, is not sound reasoning. There is readily available information about lineup construction/bull pen usage/pinch hitting that considers the requisite factors and provides optimal strategies. There is a body of evidence that Clint Hurdle seems to frequently disregard this information (which all clubs have,) but in his defense he is far from the only manger (see Dusty Baker, Mike Scioscia.)

        I understand other incentives are in play. Utilizing your best bullpen pitchers in high leverage situation instead of having defined roles based on innings is not the industry standard. Thus breaking this norm would lead to increased scrutiny that could have adverse consequences. However, far too much baseball/sports analysis is outcome driven. Most of comments in question are not, frankly I welcome this type of questioning and find it interesting, no matter the source. Don’t poison the well.

        • stickyweb

          I too welcome the questioning, and love to second guess coaches and managers myself. What I would never do is say that somebody who is being wildly successful at managing can’t manage a game. And it’s not like he’s managing the ’27 Yankees here and can just roll the ball on the field and sit back for 9 innings. Few of his players are even playing up to their mediocre career stats, yet he’s winning a lot of games. Everyone points to the run differential being so small and assume it’s luck. I think maybe there’s some skill there.

          And while you think that “There is readily available information about lineup construction/bull pen usage/pinch hitting that considers the requisite factors and provides optimal strategies”, I think that is somewhat abstract, while wins and losses are proof positive. While “simply stating the results are good thus decision making must be, is not sound reasoning” is absolutely true, I think it more applies to teams that have superior stats. When a team wins at the pace the Pirates are while putting up the below average numbers they do, they either have good managing or divine intervention. And I’ll take either right now.

          I’m not saying don’t question a particular decision or hypothesize about a certain scenario, just don’t generalize about Hurdle’s overall abilitiy when the facts (i.e. wins and losses) outweigh theories. Hell, maybe even give a little credit and enjoy the ride.

          • Andrew

            I understand and agree with your opposition to Monday morning quarterbacking, and there is a certain segment of fans that have knee jerk reaction is to criticize/bemoan Clint Hurdle. Generally, I do not think managers have a huge impact on overall performance.

            For Pirates they are currently outperforming their Pythagorean by 4 wins, which is not outside of expected variance. (They aren’t the 2012 Orioles) They are currently 3rd in the NL in offense WAR and 6th in pitching WAR. This is a good team, they would be with/without Clint Hurdle, we are arguing at the margins. I think much of the argument is colored by peoples priors. Mine being that some of in-game decision are perplexing.

            Again, the effect is not dramatic and this isn’t an argument worth a lot of time, but it is interesting. I think you are correct that we should enjoy the ride.

    • buster09

      leadoff : I went to this page on purpose just to see if any one had asked Hurdle those questions. I was very interested in what he had to say about it. stickywebb,maybe you know why ? I am not criticizing,I would just like to know what his thinking was.

      • stickyweb

        Buster, I don’t know why. I love Hurdle and I also love second guessing him and every other coach. And I would be interested in what his thinking was when he made a certain decision. I also think there’s almost no chance he would tell us the truth, in order to not give away strategies against a division opponent we face several more times this season.

        What I can’t stand is people who have exactly zero experience coaching above Little League (if that)saying “if we all saw this, how couldn’t he see it” and “he can’t manage a game”, when the team’s current record obviously refutes that. It’s not like everyone is having a career year, and he just sits back and soaks it all in. For 2/3 of the season, the offense barely produced and he was still winning at an incredible pace. Either he knows something, or he should put $20 on the Powerball tonight. Actually just $2, because as the luckiest man in the history of mankind, he only needs to buy 1 ticket.

        I wondered the same thing when I saw Gaby pinch hitting. I thought about it some more and realized if we put a lefty hitter in, the Brew Crew would probably put a lefty in. Then we could counter with Gaby or one of our other lefty killers. But evidently Hurdle wanted MIL to keep a reliever that was approaching or passed 30 pitches and struggling a bit in the game. He’s been in the game literally his whole life, and do we really think he hasn’t considered some of these extremely basic concepts? We armchair manage a few hours a week, but we know waaayyy more than a guy that lives it 24/7 and has had some measurable success to boot. Oh, he also sees and talks to the players for 8 hours every day, so he may be slightly more tuned in to them than those of us that see them for about 5 minutes of TV time.

  • piratemike

    Next year they should make Clint the “Morale Officer” and let somebody else that really understands baseball do the managing.

    • stickyweb

      Yup, and it would be the easiest job search in history, too. Just need to read a couple of blogs to find dozens of qualified, even over qualified, candidates. They can’t miss with any of these guys.

  • paskjox

    I thought Hurdle should’ve pinch run Morneau with Pie or Marte in the top 8th with runners on 2nd and 3rd with less than 2 out in order to squeeze two runs in and then just put Sanchez at 1st. But I guess that would’ve required logical thinking out of him!

    • Henduck

      Really! That would have been the perfect time to use Marte. Hurdle hasn’t used him at all lately. I wonder what’s up with that? Is he in the doghouse maybe? No, wait a minute – I know what it is. Logical thinking tells me that he’s on the DL and not available to pinch run.

      • paskjox

        Logical thinking says I said PIE as well……read carefully before making a stupida$$ response!,

  • jamminjoe66

    I wouldn’t have Barmas on my LL team.

    • buster09

      jamminjoe66 : so you are in a position to really judge MLB players ? I’ll bet you are ….