Fans show their support in record numbers
2011 saw fourth-highest home attendance in Bucs' history
PITTSBURGH -- Even with the numbers trailing off in September, the Pirates finished the year with the fourth-highest home attendance total in franchise history.
With an announced crowd of 28,758 at Sunday's home finale, the season total climbed to 1,940,429. The only three seasons in which the Pirates drew more were 2001, 1991 and '92. In all three of those years, the Pirates surpassed the 2 million mark.
"They've been awesome," manager Clint Hurdle said when asked about the fan support. "Our guys are so appreciative and I'm so appreciative of the number of people that have come out. I do think we were also good for a number of them to find the fan again. We've got a lot of work to do to push that forward."
The Pirates averaged 24,255 fans over 80 home dates. That average ranked 22nd in the Majors. A year ago, the only National League club to draw fewer fans than the Pirates was the Marlins, who are at the bottom of the league again next year.
Overall, the team increased attendance by approximately 22 percent, one of the largest percentage increases in the Major Leagues. The Pirates drew 17 sellout crowds and 25 crowds of at least 30,000 fans.
"One of the main reasons I came here was the passion of the fans," general manager Neal Huntington said. "An apathetic fan base would bury a franchise faster than anything in this world. I believed from what I had heard and seen and experienced first-hand as a scout when I came to Pittsburgh was that this is a passionate fan base ready to be reignited.
"We still have a lot of people to win over. We still have a lot of people to win back. We still have a lot of people to pay back for their patience."
Locke will start season finale vs. Brewers
PITTSBURGH -- Unsuccessful in his first three attempts, Jeff Locke will get one more crack at earning his first Major League win this season. Manager Clint Hurdle has named Locke's the team's starter for Wednesday's season finale in Milwaukee.
Locke, who has been in the rotation since joining the big league team on Sept. 6, will be limited to about 75-80 pitches in the outing. He has maxed out at 82 in his first three starts, none of which have lasted more than five innings.
Locke last pitched on Friday, meaning that he will take the mound on a normal four days of rest. He allowed one earned run on six hits in 4 2/3 innings in that start against the Reds.
Charlie Morton and Ross Ohlendorf will start the first two games of the series. The Pirates are still looking for their first win at Miller Park this season. The last Pittsburgh starting pitcher to win a game in Milwaukee was Tom Gorzelanny on May 3, 2007.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.