Andy LaRoche took the last swing of the year for the Pittsburgh Pirates and popped up, then slammed his bat to the dirt in disgust.
It was a fitting finish to another miserable season. Pittsburgh lost for the 105th time Sunday when Dan Uggla homered and drove in three runs to help Florida win 5-2.
The Pirates concluded their record-extending 18th consecutive losing season at 57-105, worst in the majors.
“Definitely not what any of us had in mind coming out of spring training,” LaRoche said.
The only time the Pirates had more defeats in baseball’s modern era was in 1952, when they went 42-112. They finished
17-64 away from home, matching the 1963 New York Mets for the worst road record in a
Uggla hit a two-run homer and an RBI double. He finished with 33 homers and 105 RBIs, both career highs, and received a standing ovation from the crowd of 31,803 when he came out of the game in the eighth inning.
His production was a bright spot for a team that had expected to contend for a postseason berth but instead finished under .500 for the first time since 2007.
“Individually it turned out to be a really good year for me,” Uggla said. “But nothing takes the sting out of not being in the playoffs.”
For both franchises, the offseason will begin with the focus on the manager’s job. The game may have been the last with the Pirates for John Russell, whose three-year record is 186-299.
“There are a lot of disappointing things,” Russell said. “Coming out of spring training, obviously we didn’t know our rotation was going to lose 83 games. I think that was the biggest thing.”
The Marlins will move quickly in their search for a manager for 2011, President of Baseball Operations Larry Beinfest said, with interim manager Edwin Rodriguez among four or five candidates under consideration.
After the game, Uggla stuck his head in the door of Rodriguez’s office and gave him an autographed bat. “You’re an amazing manager and an even better man!!” read the inscription above Uggla’s signature.
“I love him to death,” Uggla said. “I’d play for him any day of the week. We’re all pulling for him.”
Hampered by a wave of late-season injuries, Rodriguez went 46-46 after replacing Fredi Gonzalez. The Marlins finished 80-82.
“If I don’t get selected to be the manager, I will move on,” Rodriguez said. “Yeah, I will be disappointed, but it won’t be like the end of the world. And I will wish the best for the organization.”
Rodriguez didn’t make it to the finish of the finale. Wes Helms’ two-out fly in the sixth inning was initially ruled a three-run homer, but the umpires reversed the call following a reply review, and Helms settled for an RBI double. Rodriguez argued and was ejected for the third time this season.
Helms made the defensive play of the game at third, leaping over the rolled-up tarp to catch a foul ball and coming to rest wedged between the tarp and the retaining wall. Adding to the humorous scene, umpire Angel Hernandez climbed atop the tarp on his knees to make the out call.
Pittsburgh’s Ronny Cedeno hit his eighth home run. That was the only earned run allowed by Anibal Sanchez (13-12), who went six innings.
Brian Burres (4-5) allowed three runs in 5 2⁄3 innings. The Pirates finished with an ERA of 5.00, but that’s not the number for which they’ll be remembered.
“Whenever you lose 100-plus games, it’s never good,” Burres said.
Notes: Marlins SS Hanley Ramirez said he has been bothered since midseason by the hyperextended left elbow that sidelined him for the final two weeks. “It was getting worse and worse and worse,” he said. Ramirez plans to spend a month at home in the Dominican Republic, then return to Miami to work with a Marlins trainer to strengthen his elbow. ... The Marlins’ home attendance totaled 1.54 million. They finished last in the NL for the sixth year in a row, and third-worst in the majors. The season total included 10,332 tickets for the perfect game Philadelphia’s Roy Halladay pitched against the Marlins sold as souvenirs afterward. ... MRI exam determined Marlins RHP Alex Sanabia has a strained ligament in his right elbow, and he’ll be able to begin his regular offseason throwing program in December. ... In his final at-bat, Florida’s speedy Emilio Bonifacio grounded into a double play for the first time this season.