Top Ten Most Memorable Pirates Moments of 2012

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

Top Ten Pirates of the PNC Park Era: #2 Andrew McCutchen

mccuthen

Year Age G H HR RBI SB BA OBP SLG OPS
2009 22 108 124 12 54 22 .286 .365 .471 .836
2010 23 154 163 16 56 33 .286 .365 .449 .814
2011 24 158 148 23 89 23 .259 .364 .456 .820
2012 25 157 194 31 96 20 .327 .400 .553 .953
4 Yrs 577 629 82 295 98 .290 .374 .484 .858
Andrew McCutchen took over centerfield at PNC Park in 2009 after Nate McLouth was traded, and fans weren’t happy at first.  Cutch debuted with an impressive showing against the Mets, and hasn’t looked back since.  In 2010, his first full season, he put up impressive numbers but was the lone bright spot on a terrible team.  The Bucs took off in 2011, led by Cutch, who may have become too fatigued and put too much pressure on himself as the team faded down the stretch.  After ending the first month of the 2012 season without a home run, Cutch went off.  He flirted with a .400 average and was the clear MVP winner as the team soared to the league-best record in July.  Unfortunately, that .380+ average slowly dropped as August began and the team collapsed as Cutch cooled off.  But what’s most impressive about his numbers from last season is that he did it all while having down months in April, August, and September.  Still, he picked up a Silver Slugger Award and Gold Glove, which won’t be the last awards he’ll win in his career.  Even with his electrifying defense and pop at the plate, he still has room to improve.  Luckily, Cutch is locked up through at least 2018 and when this franchise finally gets turned around, he’ll be right in the middle of everything.  Within the next few years, he could very well move into the #1 spot in this top ten.

Photo: Brock Fleeger/Creative Commons

Season in Pictures: September 2012


September 7th, 2012
Josh Harrison commits one of the Pirates’ seven errors, as the Cubs cruised to a 12-2 victory.


September 10th, 2012
Brandon Phillips is plunked by Jared Hughes; nonsense ensued, as Phillips thought Hughes made a racist comment towards him. The Bucs were swept by the Redlegs.


September 27th, 2012
Travis Snider scales the outfield wall to make a ridiculous catch at Citi Field. However, the Pirates lost, 6-5, as R.A. Dickey won his 20th game.


September 28th, 2012
Homer Bailey celebrates after no-hitting the Pirates at PNC Park.


September 29th, 2012
Andrew McCutchen is greeted by his teammates at home plate after knocking a walk-off home run against the Reds.


October 3rd, 2012
Andrew McCutchen leaves the field for the final time in 2012 to a standing ovation in front of 20,000+ at PNC Park.

Cutch happens big time

After sinking to the lowest of the low’s on Friday night by getting no-hit, the Bucs bounced back to delay their 82nd loss by at least another day.  It was a close game, with both starters throwing well.  The stage was set for some dramatics in the ninth, and Cutch stepped up.

Kyle McPherson, still looking for his first big-league win, took the hill and looked great.  He got into a jam in the first, but retired the Reds’ 3-4-5 hitters to strand two runners and avoid any first-inning runs.  He pitched six innings, shutting out the Reds by giving up just four hits.  Although he got the no-decision and couldn’t pick up his first win, he finished off his rookie season well and set himself up for a potential roster spot in 2013.

The Pirates couldn’t get much going at the plate.  Mike Leake matched McPherson with six innings of four-hit ball, with the only real chance of scoring against him coming in the second when Pedro Alvarez hit a ground-rule double.

The bullpens took over, and the Bucs scratched out a run.  Clint Barmes singled to left, got to second on an overthrown pickoff, and was bunted over to third.  Clint Hurdle decided that pinch-running Chase d’Arnaud for 90 feet was more important than leaving Barmes’ defense in the game.  If he’d been on second with two outs, this might make more sense.  Regardless, Alex Presley doubled to the gap and it didn’t matter who was on third because they scored easily.  1-0 Bucs with the back of the bullpen ready to take over.

After a plethora of defensive replacements, Jason Grilli continued to struggle.  He couldn’t escape Ryan Ludwick‘s leadoff double and gave up the tying run with two outs.  The Pirates left two runners on base in the eighth, and same with the Reds in the ninth.  Joel Hanrahan got out of the inning after giving up two walks.

Enter Andrew McCutchen.  With one out, Cutch stepped into the box against Jonathan Broxton.  He smoked an opposite-field walk-off bomb to right-center.  His third career walk-off couldn’t have come at a better time.  The crowd needed something to cheer about, and they couldn’t have asked for anything better.  Cutch might be slipping from the MVP and batting title races, but he’s still a heck of a player to watch.

Pirates (77-81) – Reds (95-63)

Win: Hanrahan (5-1)
Loss: Broxton (4-4)

BOX SCORE

Go Bucs

Game Recap: Pirates vs. Phillies 4/8/12

What an exciting rubber match for the Pirates-Phillies Opening Series 2012.  Only one of us was at the game today so we won’t have any pictures, but will still have the full recap.

James McDonald started his first game of the year, and got off to a shaky start.  After giving up a hit to Shane Victorino in the first, Hunter Pence doubled to put the Phils on the board early.

There wasn’t much action after that until the top of the fourth, with a few scattered Pirates singles.  Hunter Pence struck again in the top of the inning, crushing a homer into the notch in left-center.  Other than the two mistakes to Pence, McDonald turned in a very good start.

Pedro Alvarez led off the bottom of the fifth and absolutely HAMMERED a ball that cleared the right field wall and landed on the riverwalk.  The crowd went nuts as Pedro hit the first “Bowser Blast” of the year.

Juan Pierre led off the top of the sixth with a bunt that Pedro threw into right field, and Pierre advanced to second.  Victorino bunted him over, and Pence was intentionally walked.  You really have to like the decision by Clint Hurdle to walk Pence, considering he had already driven in two.  Even with Jim Thome on deck, it was a very good move by Hurdle to not let Pence beat them again.  After a long at-bat, J-Mac froze Thome with a 2-2 curve, and was out of the jam.

Ty Wigginton walked to lead off the seventh, and Freddy Galvis followed with what would have been a sacrifice bunt.  Relief pitcher Jared Hughes threw to Neil Walker covering first, who completely missed the catch.  Both runners advanced two bases.  Hughes retired Brian Schneider and Laynce Nix to get two outs, but gave up a two run single to Juan Pierre to right field.  The single gave Philly a 4-1 lead.

With one out in the bottom half of the inning, Pedro Alvarez struck out, but reached first when Wigginton dropped the throw down from Schneider.  Casey McGehee came up two batters later and doubled off the of the Clemente Wall, plating Alvarez.  Alex Presley followed and roped a ball to Pence in right, scoring McGehee and cutting the lead to 4-3.

Andrew McCutchen singled to left to lead off the eighth.  After a Walker flyout, Nate McLouth came out to pinch hit.  Phillies manager Charlie Manuel countered, and brought in lefty Antonio Bastardo.  Clint Hurdle fired back and sent Yamaico Navarro to hit,  effectively burning McLouth.  Navarro walked, and Clint Barmes followed with a strikeout.  Matt Hague then pinch hit for Pedro, and lined a singled to right, picking up his first major league hit and tying the game at 4.

Joel Hanrahan pitched the top of the ninth to keep the game tied, and he struck out two in an clean inning.  In the bottom half of the inning, Casey McGehee doubled into the notch, and Alex Presley bunted Josh Harrison, who pinch ran for McGehee, to third.  Jose Tabata struck out, but Cutch was there to save the day.  He fell down in the count 0-2, but worked it back to full.  He then crushed the 3-2 pitch off the dead center field wall, giving the Bucs their second straight walk-off win.  Talk about BUCN.  What a comeback.

Other hightlights:
– Jose Tabata and Alex Presley stole their first bags of the year, while Cutch stole his second.
– The pitching staff was once again very strong, with the exception of Hughes.  McDonald went six innings, but was pulled with his pitch count still in the 80s.  He still got the quality start, only giving up two earned runs on four hits.  Hughes followed with the rough inning that seemingly broke the game open.  Evan Meek made his first appearance, and pitched a 1-2-3 inning.  We’ll have to see more appearances from him to decide whether he’ll have another season like he did in 2010.  Joel Hanrahan pitched in a tie game for the second straight night, and threw another 1-2-3 inning with two strikeouts.
– Overall, the offense really picked it up today, collecting 12 hits.
Garrett Jones and Clint Barmes were the only two starters to not pick up a hit, and both looked very bad the plate.  Jones struck out once and grounded into a double play, while Barmes K’d twice.

Star of the Game: Andrew McCutchen.  Cutch picked up three hits, including a double and the walk-off hit.  He also walked, stole a base, and scored a run.
Goat of the Game: David Herndon.  His only job was to get the game to extra innings, and he couldn’t do it.  McGehee crushed a double off of him, and Cutch tagged him with the loss on the walk-off.

It was an awesome atmosphere at the first Sunday game of the year, with about a 60/40 split between Pirates fans and Phillies fans.  There were a few times that the Philly fans dominated the stadium with cheers, but the Pirates got the last laugh.  After Cutch hit the walk-off, Phillies fan got very quiet and exited the park rather quickly.  Funny how they went from being obnoxious and claiming that the game was over after Pierre’s single, to walking away embarrassed when the Bucs won.  The Pirates will go on their west coast swing early this year, playing three games against the Dodgers, Giants, and Diamondbacks each.

Pirates (2-1) – Phillies (1-2)

Win: Hanrahan (1-0)
Loss: Herndon (0-1)

BOX SCORE

Go Bucs