The Pittsburgh Pirates have reached the Major League Baseball playoffs for the first time since 1992.
To do so last night, the Pirates needed to knock off the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field and have the Washington Nationals – who were hoping to creep into the postseason with only six games remaining – lose to the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Pirates did their part, beating the Cubs 2-1. Pittsburgh held a 1-0 lead until reliever Mark Melancon gave up a game-tying RBI in the 8th inning.
However, in the 9th, leftfielder Starling Marte – who has been nursing a hand injury for five weeks and has not been in the starting lineup – hit a clinching home run.
The Cubs almost tied the game once again in the ninth. Outfielder Ryan Sweeney hit a single into left field that was bobbled by Pirates’ Marlon Byrd. The bobble caused the Cubs to send Nate Schierholtz – who was on first base – home to try and tie the game.
But, star Pirates centerfielder Andrew McCutchen recovered and threw the ball into the infield for first baseman Justin Morneau to throw to catcher Russell Martin – who tagged out Schierholtz to end the game.
The Pirates also won their 90th regular season game, the most since 1992, and have five more games remaining: two with the Cubs and three with the Cincinnati Reds –who also clinched a playoff spot with their win over the New York Mets – in Cincinnati to close out the regular season.
Due to the remaining five games – and especially the three against Cincinnati – , it is unknown if the Pirates will remain as a National League wildcard or win the National League Central division – which the Cardinals lead by two games.