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Ten Positives for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2021 – No. 8: A Strong Finish

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In Tuesday’s edition of “Ten Positives for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2021,” we highlighted the Pirates’ nine walk-off victories. In that article, one of the points made was that no matter how bad things were going or what the scoreboard read, the Pirates never gave up on a game and seemingly always fought hard to the final out. Never quitting also applied to how the Pirates were able to finish off the season – no matter how disappointing the record was.

Considering how the year unfolded for the Bucs, it would have been easy for them to just roll over and die instead of fighting in each game during the final stretch of the regular season. Whether it’s a testament to the culture that Derek Shelton and the coaching staff have been creating, the will of the players in the clubhouse or a combination of both, the Pirates finished strong and ended the year on the right foot.

The Pirates returned home in early September from a six-game Chicago road trip in which Pittsburgh dropped all six contests vs. the White Sox and Cubs – a couple in grueling fashion, giving them a 48-89 record. With 25 games left on the schedule, it looked like the Pirates would limp to the finish line, but that was not the case. The Bucs rattled off four straight series wins and finished the year winning five of their final eight series. In total, the Pirates put together a 13-12 record down the home stretch and salvaged a little bit of confidence heading into the offseason.

The offense saw improvements during the stretch of winning baseball, averaging 4.4 runs per game, compared to just 3.8 runs per game for 2021 as a whole. A big reason for this was an impressive finish to the season for Bryan Reynolds as he was chasing a .300 batting average during the final month of the year – which he accomplished. Once the Pirates signed Yoshi Tsutsugo in August, he provided an instant boost the the Pirates’ lineup. How much the dismissal of Rick Eckstein on Aug. 30 played a role in the improvement to the Bucs’ offense is speculation, but the team performed better under assistant hitting coach Christian Marrero.

The Pirates will look to build upon the momentum they had during their strong finish to the season in 2022. Until then, the players and coaches will enjoy some down time in what should be a busy offseason for Pittsburgh.

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