Merry Clinchmas, Pirates fans. September 23 has been a good day for the Pittsburgh Pirates, as they’ve clinched their playoff spot on that day in each of the last three years. This season, the Pirates defeated the Colorado Rockies by a 13-7 score to punch their ticket to the postseason.
Neil Walker went 4-for-5 at the plate, hitting his 15th home run of the season in the third inning, while also batting in a career-high six runs. The Pirates had a total of 19 hits in the game.
As far as celebrations go, the Pirates on-field version was subdued and professional, a far cry from 2013 when the team exchanged hugs and Jason Grilli embraced Russell Martin who continued to hold the 27th out of the game high in the air.
This is, after all, the third time in franchise history that the Pirates have made the postseason in three consecutive seasons, not to mention the Pirates are four games behind the St. Louis Cardinals for the National League Central and are not mathematically out of that race.
The Pirates elected to celebrate with a 20-minute private toast following the contest before opening their clubhouse to the media.
“Act like you’ve been here before,” Andrew McCutchen said to Root Sports after the game. “That’s what makes us different; that’s what makes us stronger.”
As for the game, Walker was responsible for the first five runs with a first-inning single that scored both Josh Harrison and Starling Marte. Walker’s third-inning home run plated McCutchen and Marte.
The Rockies got on the scoreboard with a Jose Reyes fielder’s choice, however, Marte hit his 30th double of the season in the fourth inning, plating two runs.
In many ballparks, 7-1 is an insurmountable lead, however, that is not the case at Coors Field. Charlie Morton allowed a bases loaded walk in the bottom of the fourth inning and then, an inning later, he allowed a solo home run to Corey Dickerson and a three-run homer to Tom Murphy.
Morton was removed prior to the conclusion of the fifth inning and Joe Blanton got the final out.
With the game’s outcome in doubt, the Pirates had a six-run ninth inning. Sean Rodriguez recorded his 11th double of the season, which unloaded the bases. Gregory Polanco’s 31st double of the season, a Harrison single and a Polanco single accounted for the other scoring plays in the inning.
Arquimedes Caminero pitched the ninth inning and allowed a run on a Dickerson double, however left the inning with no further damage.
Blanton [6-2] earned the win and Christian Bergman [3-1] took the loss. Tony Watson earned his 40th hold of the season in this game.
The Pirates will conclude the four-game series Thursday afternoon when Jeff Locke [8-11 4.48 ERA] takes on Chad Bettis [8-5 4.46 ERA]. Locke is 0-1 with a 4.91 ERA in three career starts against the Rockies.
Photo credit: Jack Dempsey/AP Photo