The Pirates' incredible season ended with a 6-1 Game 5 loss to the Cardinals Wednesday night.
Despite a good outing from Gerrit Cole (who pitched five innings and struck out five), the Pirates found themselves in a hole early on, as Cole missed his spot with a breaking pitch and gave up a two-run, line-drive homer to David Freese in the second.
Freese actually did a curtain call on a second-inning home run, as if it had been his third of the game or something. It would have been amazing for the Pirates to be able to make Freese look silly by coming back and winning. And they actually did get a decent shot to take down Adam Wainwright, whose command was not as good as it usually is.
Unfortunately, the Pirates' offense came up way short. It didn't help that they hit into two line-drive double plays, one in the second and one on a questionable call in the eighth. But either way, the Pirates' hitters didn't do nearly enough, and Wainwright wound up with a complete game, striking out six and walking one.
With a man on and no outs, the Pirates had Garrett Jones pinch-hit for Cole in the sixth, obviously a fine decision given that the Pirates were already down two runs. But that's where the game really started to go south for the Bucs. Jones flied out, and Starling Marte grounded into a double play. Then Justin Wilson entered in the bottom of the inning and gave up a single, a walk and a ground-ball single up the middle to put the Cardinals up 3-0.
The Pirates got one back in a weird seventh inning as Justin Morneau and Marlon Byrd both hit infield singles with two outs, and Pedro Alvarez hit a grounder that bounced over the first-base bag and allowed Morneau to come all the way home from second. Russell Martin grounded out, though, and the Pirates were still down 3-1 with just six outs left.
That lasted until the bottom of the eighth, when Mark Melancon entered. Melancon gave up a single to Matt Holliday, then a towering home run to Matt Adams, making it 5-1. Melancon, who had been so reliable this year, also then gave up a walk and a single before being replaced by Jason Grilli, who allowed a single to Pete Kozma.
The Pirates actually made it somewhat interesting in the ninth, as Morneau and Byrd hit two-out singles yet again. But Wainwright whiffed Alvarez to end the Bucs' playoff run.
Regardless, it was a great season, so much better than what I anticipated this year. My heart is very full right now.
This was a strange day. There was a tragic incident in Wheeling, the kind where you see that something happened and you have to call people to make sure they're okay. I was working my last day at one of my jobs when that happened. It was also my birthday. And then this. The loss isn't what I wanted, but I find myself mostly feeling happy to be alive.
Baseball is trivial, but it's a trivial thing that provides a backdrop for more important aspects of our lives, and even though the Pirates didn't make it to the World Series, I'm grateful to this team for adding some color to that backdrop. It's been far too long. Those of you who were around in 1992, I'm happy you made it here. I'm glad we're all still on this planet together. Those of you who weren't around in 1992, I'm glad you're here too, and I'm happy you finally know what good baseball feels like. And I hope that tonight we'll all think of the friends and family with whom we've shared Pirates baseball and who didn't make it all the way through the streak.
To the Pirates organization and the 2013 Pirates, thank you. You were amazing. We won't forget this.