Before Joe Musgrove went down the tunnel after making his final start of the season Thursday night at PNC Park, he gave a fan in the stands a hug and his cleats.
The gesture was clearly appreciated.
After the game, Musgrove was asked about the relationship he is building with Pirates fans. Here is what he had to say:
"We didn't really give the fans a whole lot to look forward to this season. As much as we want to complain about not having a full crowd and not having a lot of action and a lot of noise out there, it's on us, man. We didn't perform, and at the price of tickets now, I don't know if I'd pay that much to come out and watch a team perform like we did this year.
"We understand that, and we're thankful for the fans that are loyal and that came out every day, regardless of the situation we were in. But we've got different expectations for next season ... We’ve been through the worst of the worst, so we feel like it’s only up from here."
The announced attendance was 10,529, but only a small fraction of that figure was actually in the crowd Thursday. Of that, a fair portion were wearing Cubbie blue.
Entering Thursday, the Pirates were averaging 18,411 fans per home game, the fifth worst total in baseball, ahead of only the Marlins, Rays, Orioles and Royals.
Musgrove got the win Thursday in the Pirates' 9-5 victory over the Cubs. He tossed six innings of three-run ball, striking out eight.