After the Pittsburgh Pirates tasted the spoils of victory, Andy Van Slyke gave the New York Mets a bitter pill to swallow.
"The biggest nail in the coffin is that the Mets' game wasn't over before ours was," Van Slyke said Sunday after the Pirates clinched their first title in 11 years with a 2-0 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals."A lot of people went home on the subway very disappointed."
The Pirates clinched while the Mets were still playing and made the three-game series beginning Monday between the two clubs a meaningless one. The fans at Shea received the news when the results flashed on the Shea Stadium scorebard.
The news was a lot better for Pirate fans.
Ace pitcher Doug Drabek fired a three-hitter and Gary Redus's sacrifice fly broke up a scoreless eighth inning to help Pittsburgh earn the right to face the West Division champion Reds in the NL playoffs Thursday. Cincinnati and Pittsburgh split 12 games this season.
"We came up with a pretty good guy, just at the right time," Pittsburgh Manager Jim Leyland said on Drabek.
Drabek, 22-6, hurled his third shutout of the year, his ninth complete game and won for the eighth time in his last nine decisions.
"I don't consider myself the ace," Drabek said. "It would have been nice, no matter who won today."
To Van Slyke, winning the NL East title with the Pittsburgh meant more to him than the one he experienced with the Cardinals back in 1985.
"When I came here (in 1987) it was the worst situation in baseball," Van Slyke said. "We finished last three straight years. But (Jim) Leyland did a great job. He was the foundation for the turnaround in Pittsburgh."