The energy within the clubhouse hasn’t waned much even as the team sagged. Rookie third baseman Josh Harrison, who has spent the year bouncing between the Pirates and Triple-A Indianapolis is proof.
“I still feel the vibe,” he said. “We haven’t been getting the outcome that we like, but as far as coming to the clubhouse, the field, I still feel a good vibe. Guys are pulling for each other. Clint’s out there, high-energy like he is and he’s got that confidence in us.”
So, apparently, does the fanbase.
The team is averaging 24,034 fans a game at PNC Park with one homestand remaining, an increase of over 4,000 fans a game from a year ago. The Pirates have also hosted the most sellouts since the stadium’s inaugural season in 2001, and truly electrified the city with six memorable games in June.
Three weeks apart, Pittsburgh played host to the Philadelphia Phillies and Boston Red Sox, perennial playoff teams with tremendous traveling fan bases. The Pirates won two of three in each series, sold out four of the games, and played amid as close to a playoff atmosphere as PNC has seen in its 11 seasons.
Besides being active at the deadline, the Pirates were also aggressive during the MLB Draft, shelling out $13 million to sign top overall pick pitcher Gerrit Cole and high school outfielder Josh Bell. General manager Neal Huntington agreed to an extension on Sunday that will keep him on the job through 2014, as did promising outfielder Jose Tabata.
Huntington plans to oversee the end of The Streak. So does Hurdle.
They’ll just have to wait until next year, though the players aren’t ready to start talking about 2012, when The Streak could turn 20.
“There’s a lot to be proved before the season is said and done,” Karstens said. “Yeah, we know we’re not really playing for the playoffs now … but it’s all about playing spoiler now.
“You play 162 games for a reason.”
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