Just over three weeks after clinching their first winning season in just over two decades, the Pittsburgh Pirates have clinched their first playoff berth in 21 years with a 2-1 win over the Chicago Cubs. Both Neil Walker and Starling Marte homered in that game, eliminating the Washington Nationals from playoff contention as they lost to St. Louis 4-3. Surprisingly, the biggest thing going in the Steel City isn't the 0-3 Steelers. It's the playoff-bound Bucs, who are in a battle with the St. Louis Cardinals and the Cincinnati Reds for the NL Central division title.
Pittsburgh's playoff trip in 1992 didn't end so well. It ended with Atlanta's Sid Bream sliding into home as the winning run in bottom of the ninth, propelling the Braves to a Game 7 win in the NL Championship Series and a trip to the World Series. It's also been a while since the Pirates have been to the World Series. They haven't been to the Fall Classic since 1979, when they came back from a 3-1 deficit to defeat the Baltimore Orioles in seven games. The great Willie Stargell was named the World Series MVP, batting .400 with three home runs and seven RBIs.
If the Pirates do make it to the World Series, they do have one thing going for them. They're 15-5 in interleague games this season. But they are 23-25 against the other NL playoff teams, including a combined 5-8 against both Atlanta and Los Angeles. Still, the postseason is a whole new season. It'll be interesting to see what happens to Pittsburgh in the last five games.
Asked if clinching a playoff berth felt great, Manager Clint Hurdle said "Abso-bucking-lutely."