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Pirates always wanted more than just 82 wins

By Danny Knobler | Baseball Insider

NEW YORK -- Back in March, and even in April and May, 82 wins seemed a worthy goal for the Pirates.

Seemed that way to plenty of us. But not, John McDonald insists, to them.

The Pirates were the second of McDonald's five teams this year. He came to them from the Diamondbacks in a trade completed late in spring training. He stayed until the middle of June, when he was traded to the Indians.

What he remembers most about the Pirates is that while everyone outside seemed to be asking if they could finally have a winning season, the players he joined had other ideas.

"They weren't talking about having a winning season," said McDonald, now with the Red Sox. "They were talking about making the playoffs. They were playing to get to the postseason, not to win 82."

It's pretty obvious now that the Pirates will do both. They had a chance at an 82nd win Friday night in St. Louis, but they went in needing just one win in their final 23 games to finish with their first winning record since 1992.

They don't need many more wins than that to secure their first postseason spot in 20 years. When play began Friday, the Pirates held a 10-game edge over the Diamondbacks in the race to make the playoffs.

At this point, McDonald said, 82 wins is barely even worth celebrating.

"They're beyond that," he said. "A good season's not winning 82 games. The guys there aren't happy with that. You appreciate it, because the organization hasn't done it in a while, but that's not what you play for, to just win more games than you lose."

You play to get to the postseason, which McDonald can now do for just the second time in his 15 big-league seasons. His only postseason appearance was with the 2011 Diamondbacks.

This year, he could see three of his five teams make it to October. The Red Sox and Pirates are locks, and the Indians still have a chance at an American League wild-card berth (the Diamondbacks and Phillies won't be making it, however).

"I'm going to have to get on the phone and start lobbying for postseason shares," McDonald joked.

He didn't play much of a part in helping the Pirates get there, appearing in just 16 games and finishing with just two hits and one RBI. He'll be down there in the fine print on the list of 2013 Pirates, a team that won't soon be forgotten in Pittsburgh.

Not because they're going to win 82 games, but because they're going to win quite a few more.

 
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