The Pittsburgh Pirates will be heading to the MLB postseason for the third consecutive year after becoming the second team in the majors, joining the St. Louis Cardinals, to clinch a spot. The Pirates defeated the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday 13-7 in what was also the team’s fifth straight win.
Second baseman Neil Walker powered the Bucs with a career-high six RBI, as the Pirates held off a comeback attempt in the middle innings. Starter Charlie Morton was run from the game after 4.1 innings following a four-run bottom of the fifth for Colorado. The Pirates added six insurance runs in the top of the ninth to cement the victory after the bullpen allowed just one run after Morton exited.
The win streak follows a stretch of four losses—three of which came against the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park. A reversal of fortunes against divisional opponents will be needed in order for any hopes of a division title to come true.
The Pirates sit at 92-60 on the season, and with 10 games left on the regular-season schedule, reaching the truly remarkable 100-win mark is not out of the question. The club will finish out a four-game set in Colorado on Thursday before heading to Chicago for three games against the Cubs. The season concludes with a six-game homestand, featuring showdowns with the NL Central-leading Cardinals and the Cincinnati Reds.
Heading into Thursday’s games, the Pirates are positioned four games behind the Cardinals in the divisional chase, and they hold a three-game lead over the Cubs in the race for the top wild-card spot.
The top-three teams in baseball, according to record, all reside in the NL Central.
While the Pirates’ spot in October is secure, they’re not content with a wild-card berth, as Walker noted, per Tom Singer of MLB.com: “We’re in a different place than we were last year, certainly than a couple of years ago. We know we still have a lot of work in front of us. We still feel like we have the Cardinals in our grasp.”
In 2013, the Pirates finished 94-68 and finished three games back of the Cardinals in the division, leaving them to battle the Reds in the NL Wild Card Game. A similar fate could befall them in 2015 if they don’t take advantage of the remaining divisional games on the slate.
With that said, Walker mentioned the team is focused on the task ahead, per Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: “This year feels a little bit different than the last couple of years. We’re trying to take that next step of not only making the playoffs, but pushing forward and going deeper in the playoffs.”