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An obituary for the Bucs' 2009 season

The Pittsburgh Pirates season ended mercifully Sunday, Oct. 3, after a 6-0 loss to the Cincinnati Reds.

The 62-99 season marked the fifth straight 90-loss season. It was the fourth time in the last five years the team finished in last place in the National League Central Division. The Pirates finished 28 1/2 games behind the Cardinals.

The season started Monday, April 6, with promise. The Bucs rallied to beat the St. Louis Cardinals 6-4 at Busch Stadium. That optimism spilled over into the home opener. The Bucs beat up the Houston Astros 7-0 behind the strong pitching of Zach Duke.

On Sunday, April 26, the team was four games over .500, the highest point all season. On Saturday, Sept. 26, the team was at its lowest point statistically, 39 games under .500.

The low point, perhaps, was the trading frenzy that jettisoned outfielders Nate McLouth and Nyjer Morgan, and infielders Freddy Sanchez and Jack Wilson from the franchise. It certainly was a morale killer for players and fans.

The team played poorly the second half of the year, going 24-49. The Pirates had a nine-game losing streak from Aug. 28 to Sept. 5.

The team scored 636 runs and allowed 768, which would explain such a poor record, the second-worst in the majors. The Pirates were shut out 17 times during the season and shut out their opponents seven. Their worst game was a 17-2 loss to the Cubs on Friday, Aug. 14. The Bucs scored 12 runs in a game twice -- Monday, May 18, against the Nationals and Saturday, Aug. 22, against the Reds.

The core of management will, presumably, return for 2010, led by manager John Russell, who was given the dreaded vote of confidence; general manager Neal Huntington; and owner Bob Nutting.

Without another major trade for more minor leaguers, outfielder Andrew McCutchen shows the most promise for next season. He finished his rookie year with a .286 average, 12 home runs, 54 RBIs, and 22 stolen bases.

The Pirates open the 2010 season at home on Monday, April 5, against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

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