1972 – Steve Blass got the start and a chance for his 20th win, but was lit up for three first inning runs and chased in the third frame by the New York Mets at Three Rivers Stadium as the Pirates fell 7-3. Blass himself was yanked after a liner caught him in the arm, though he did recover to pitch well in the playoff series ultimately lost to the Reds. Steve never did reach twenty wins in his career; he fell apart the following season and was out of the majors in 1974.
Steve Blass 1972 Topps
1973 – By losing 4-3 to Randy Jones and the San Diego Padres at TRS on the season’s last day, the Bucs were officially eliminated from the NL East title hunt. They were 1-1/2 games back going into the contest, with the league leading Mets scheduled to play a doubleheader. NY won the first game, making it a moot point. Bob Moose took the loss.
1974 – The Bucs took a one game lead over the Cards in the NL East title by beating the Cubs 6-5 at TRS. A two run pinch hit HR by Bob Robertson in the eighth inning was the game winner while Dave Giusti closed out the last two frames to earn the come-from-behind win. The Pirates went on to clinch the pennant the next day.
2000 – A crowd of 55,351, the largest gathering to ever to see a regular season baseball game in Pittsburgh, watched the Pirates fall to the Chicago Cubs, 10-9, in the final game at Three Rivers Stadium. Sister Sledge was on hand to sing the National Anthem after Gene Lamont, Jim Leyland, Chuck Tanner and Bill Virdon presented the final lineup card to the ump. Brian Giles had three hits and became the first Pirate to hit .300 with 30+ home runs and 100+ RBIs in back-to-back seasons. The Bucs ran through seven pitchers, with Scott Sauerbeck taking the loss after surrendering three eighth inning runs. The Pirates had second and third occupied with two outs in the ninth, but John Wehner bounced out. He did, however, have the honor of hitting the last homer in the yard in the fifth inning. After the game, a video tribute was shown, home plate was dug up to be transported to PNC Park, and Willie Stargell came out to toss the ceremonial last pitch that closed TRS.
TRS swan song (photo via Lost Ballparks)
2006 – Freddy Sanchez went 2-for-4 against the Reds to finish with a .344 BA, the tops in the NL. The Bucs won 1-0 in front of 25,004 at PNC Park behind the pitching of Shane Youman, John Grabow, Matt Capps and Salomon Torres, who combined on a four hitter. Pittsburgh scored in the eighth by rapping four straight two out singles; Xavier Nady drove in Jason Bay with the winner.
2012 – It took ten starts, but Jeff Locke got his first MLB win by beating the Braves 2-1 at PNC Park. He gave up two hits (and five walks) in six frames while three relievers tossed hitless ball behind him. Starling Marte provided the offense; he homered and tripled, coming in on Chase d’Arnaud’s ground out, to account for the Bucco runs.
2013 – A record PNC Park crowd of 40,487 saw the Pirates win the NL Wild Card game against the Cincinnati Reds by a 6-2 score. Francisco Liriano gave up one run on four hits over seven innings for the win. He was supported by Russell Martin, who had a pair of homers, and Marlon Byrd, who also went long. Martin became the first catcher to homer for three different teams in the postseason, going yard with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2008 and the New York Yankees in 2012. Martin's first blast was legendary; the crowd was chanting “Cueto” after Byrd's dinger; Johnny dropped the horsehide and then served up another long ball to Russ, lifting the roof off PNC Park. Byrd’s homer was during his first post-season at-bat after playing 1,250 MLB games before reaching the promised land. It was the first playoff game ever held at PNC and the first Pirate playoff win in Pittsburgh since defeating the Atlanta Braves 7-1 on October 11th, 1992 in the NLCS at TRS. The victory cost the Reds more than a playoff run; it also cost them a manager when Dusty Baker was fired three days later after suffering his seventh straight playoff loss as Cincinnati skipper.
The blackout Bucco worked its magic in 2013
2014 – The Pirates laid a playoff egg in front of a record crowd of 40,629 at PNC Park, falling to Madison Bumgarner and the SF Giants 8-0 in the winner-take-all NL Wild Card elimination game. Bumgarner tossed a complete game whitewash with 10 K and Brandon Crawford’s grand slam in the fourth inning off Edinson Volquez would provide Mad Bum with more than enough runs; for good measure, Brandon Belt drove in three more Giants. Josh Harrison was the Bucs lone bright spot at the dish, collecting two of the four Pirates’ hits. Much of the embarrassment wore off as the Giants, sparked by Bumgarner’s brilliant post-season pitching run, beat Washington, St. Louis and KC to claim the 2014 World Series crown.