The 1992 Pittsburgh Pirates made quick work of the National League East, winning the division for the third consecutive (and by a margin of nine games over second place Montreal). The division title meant a rematch with the Atlanta Braves in the National League Championship Series, and hopefully for Pirates fans, revenge that would lead Pittsburgh to the NL pennant for the first time since 1979.
The series didn’t get off to a good start. Playing the first two games in Atlanta, Pittsburgh ace Doug Drabek and second starter Danny Jackson were beaten 5-1 and 13-5, respectively. Young knuckleballer Tim Wakefield won Game 3, but Drabek lost again in Game 4 to give the Braves a 3-1 lead in the series. Finally, the series took a turn for the better and the Pirates won the next two games easily: 7-1 and 13-4, respectively. In the deciding Game 7 in Pittsburgh, the Pirates took a 2-0 lead into the bottom of the ninth inning, and once again had Doug Drabek on the mound.
In what has become one of the most iconic endings in Atlanta sports history, the Braves stormed back for three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning, which was capped off when former Pirate Sid Bream scored on an RBI single by Francisco Cabrera (who had just 12 plate appearances in the regular season). It was the last playoff appearance – and the last winning season – for the Pirates for two decades.
But it wasn’t the last frustrating end to a season for NL MVP Barry Bonds, who left the Pirates shortly thereafter. In fact, the very next year, the MVP played for an even better team that didn’t even make the playoffs.
Next: 1993 San Francisco Giants