Although the Bucs ultimately collapsed to their 20th consecutive losing season in 2012, there were certainly plenty of memorable moments throughout the 162-game slate. As the calendar year comes to a close, it’s time to look back on the past season; here are our top ten most memorable Pirates moments of 2012.
10. Pedro Alvarez Game-Tying Home Run After Rain Delay vs. Colorado
Down by three in a game at Coors Field, Pedro Alvarez came up as the tying run. The rain had been coming down hard for the past inning or so, and the game was finally delayed when Pedro came up. After a 52 minute rain delay, El Toro stroked the first pitch he saw (from a lefty) to left field for a game-tying home run. Absolutely unreal moment for the few that stayed up to see it. The Pirates went on to lose the game, but it was still a great moment nonetheless.
9. Brad Lincoln vs. Jim Thome Staredown
The Bucs were up by a score of 8-7 in the bottom of the seventh in Philadelphia. Jim Thome, one of the nicest major leaguers and a guaranteed hall-of-famer, was up with two men on. Brad Lincoln blew an 0-2 fastball right by Thome, and the two stared each other down as they walked off the field. There was something about the whole situation that made it just perfect; the Pittsburgh-Philadelphia rivalry, a guy with 600 home runs against a young reliever for the Pirates… everything just seemed to fit. Awesome moment.
8. A.J. Burnett One-Hitter vs. Chicago
A.J. Burnett’s first year in Pittsburgh was a great one, and his best start came on August 1st at Wrigley Field. He held the Cubs hitless through 7.2 innings, and ended up throwing a one-hitter. He and Neil Walker, who drove in all five runs (including a grand slam,) single-handedly defeated the Cubs to rack up another win.
7. Andrew McCutchen Walk-Off Hit vs. Philadelphia
The 2012 opening series against the Phillies was a good one. Philly took Opening Day by a score of 1-0, the Bucs won the second game on a walk-off infield single, and it looked like Philly would win the rubber match. Down 4-1 in the bottom of the seventh, the Pirates scored two to get within a run. The stadium was split pretty equally between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia fans, so the Phillies fans were very vocal when they had the lead. Matt Hague tied the game in the eighth with his first career knock, setting up a dramatic ninth. With two outs and a runner on third, Cutch hammered a ball to center field. It didn’t get out, but it was far enough over the head of Shane Victorino to win the game and the series. Just the first of many great moments of Cutch’s season.
6. Back-to-Back Doubles Beat Chapman
Up until Michael McKenry got to him on June 7th, Aroldis Chapman hadn’t given up an earned run all season. If you look at the roster from 2012, Clint Barmes and The Fort were two of the least likely to double off of Chapman, but they both did it in succession to give the Bucs the lead in extra innings. The win got the Pirates within two games of the Reds and gave fans some bragging rights over those annoying Reds fans.
5. Pedro Alvarez Go-Ahead Home Run in 19th vs. St. Louis
The Pirates are very familiar with 19 inning games, and it was nice to be on the winning end of one in 2012. On August 19th, the team was still very much in the playoff hunt and any game against the Cardinals was important. It looked like the Bucs were going to finally end the game in the 17th, but St. Louis scored in the bottom half to keep it going. Finally in the 19th, Pedro absolutely destroyed a ball that put the Pirates back on top. It took more than six hours, but Pedro’s game-winner was definitely worth the wait.
4. Rod Barajas Walk-Off Home Run vs. Washington
Rod Barajas was really struggling through the first month of the season and the fans were letting him know how they felt. In a game against the Nationals, Rod was boo’d every time he came to the plate, but his walk-off home run made the crowd go nuts. It was a great win for the Bucs – beating the best team in the NL – and also became the unofficial birth of “Zoltan.”
3. Starling Marte Home Run on First Pitch in MLB vs. Houston
In the middle of a pennant race in late July, the Bucs finally called up Starling Marte to add some pop into the lineup. Marte didn’t take long at all to show what he could do. He led off his first game in Houston and crushed the first pitch he saw – a fastball at the letters – deep off the train tracks at Minute Maid Park. No matter how Marte’s career with the Pirates turns out, his first home run will certainly be something that fans remember for a while.
2. Travis Snider Robs Mike Baxter of a Home Run
By late September when the Pirates travelled to Queens, it was pretty clear that they weren’t going to make the postseason and even the chances of reaching .500 looked bad. Most of baseball had forgotten about them as they cooled off into September, but an amazing catch by Travis Snider brought some attention back to the team. On a ball that looked like a no-doubt home run, Snider climbed the wall, hung there for a second, and made the catch to rob Baxter. If this wasn’t the catch of the year, it was definitely one of the top three.
1. Drew Sutton Walk-Off Home Run vs. Houston
Considering the context, this has to be the top moment of the year. A.J Burnett had a chance to win his ninth straight game, but he got hit hard by the Astros. The Bucs battled back and took a one-run lead into the ninth, but Joel Hanrahan blew the save. Drew Sutton was the right fielder in the game and although he wasn’t charged with any errors, he misplayed a few balls hit into the corner that cost Burnett a few runs. He came up in the bottom of the ninth with a chance to redeem himself, and drove a walk-off home run deep to center field as the Bucs moved to eight games over the .500 mark. Pretty unreal moment for a guy who had bounced between teams his whole career and had a few special weeks with the Pirates.
Even though they fell short of .500 once again, 2012 was another great year of Bucco baseball. Obviously, these ten moments are interchangeable and the order varies depending on the person. These were our top ten moments; feel free to let us know your most memorable Pirates moments of 2012, either in the comments section or on Twitter.
Go Bucs in 2013