MERCER MAYOR Steve Van Woert says that he got a 2013 Pirates calendar as a Christmas gift, but the giver got ripped off. “The calendar only goes to July,” Steve noted.
With late-season collapses in each of the last two years, Pirates fans must have a sense of humor to keep us going after 20 straight losing seasons.
With the 2013 spring schedule opening this week, a refresher will show recent Pirates progress.
“The Black and Gold,” the alumni association’s newsletter, used “extra innings” to remind that despite becoming the only team in history with 67 wins on August 4 to end with a season losing record, Pirates fans enjoyed many positives in 2012.
First Inning: The Bucs went 24-22-6 in their 52 series during the season, winning 79 games for the first time since going 79-83 in 1997 and showed a seven-game improvement from the 2011 season, a 22-game upswing from 2010 (57-105). They collected season highs with 19 hits and 14 runs against St. Louis (June 29) and five straight wins (July 17-22).
Second Inning: Pittsburgh surpassed the two million mark (2,091,918) in home attendance for the fourth time in team history and finished the season with the second-highest attendance figure behind the record 2,436,139 during PNC Park’s inaugural 2011 season. The Bucs also drew two million in the division-winning 1990 (2,049,908) and 1991 (2,065,302)
Third Inning: The largest baseball crowd at PNC Park (39,585) jammed seats for the home opener on April 5. The Bucs also sold out the game against Philadelphia on April 7, giving the club two straight sellouts to start a season for the first time in team history. The season’s 17 sellouts matched 2011’s total; the only season to better that mark was 2001, with 19 sellouts.
Fourth Inning: The Pirates produced their best overall single season home record at PNC Park, with a 45-36 mark. Their only other winning record in the dozen seasons at PNC came in 2006, when the Bucs were 43-38.
Fifth Inning: For the second time in franchise history, three players belted at least 25 home runs: Andrew McCutchen (31), Pedro Alvarez (30), and Garrett Jones (27) combined for 88 homers. The 1966 Pirates socked 90 roundtrippers: Willie Stargell (33), Roberto Clemente (29), and Donn Clendenon (28).
Sixth Inning: Speaking of home runs, the Pirates—whose pre-season expectations indicated the team would lack power—actually finished fourth in the National League with 170 homers, falling one short of the club record set in 1999. The Bucs led all NL teams with 103 home runs hit on the road and out-homered the opposition 67-58 at home.
Seventh Inning: McCutchen led the league with 194 hits, the first Pittsburgh player to lead the NL in hits since Andy Van Slyke collected 199 hits in 1992.
Eighth Inning: Alvarez and McCutchen each hit 30 homers in 2012, just the third time in Pittsburgh history that the Bucs had two or more players belt 30 or more in the same season. Brian Giles (37) and Aramis Ramirez (34) did it in 2001; Barry Bonds (33) and Bobby Bonilla (32) did it in 1992. Cutch and Alvarez were one of two sets of NL teammates with at least 30 homers each. Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun (41) and Corey Hart (30) were the other duo.
Ninth Inning: Pirates pitchers ranked eighth among NL teams with a 3.86 ERA. The last time Pittsburgh’s pitching staff had a season ERA below 4 was 1998 (3.91), and the last season in which the team ERA was lower was 1992 (3.35).
Extra Innings: The Bucs had the second straight winning campaign against American League teams in 2012, going 10-8 one season after posting an 8-7 record. In 16 years of interleague play, the only other winning seasons against the AL came in 2001 and 2009, when they went 8-7 both years. Overall the Bucs have gone 91-138 against the AL, with a 63-56 home record and 28-82 mark on the road.