Pittsburgh ended a 20-year playoff drought and snapped a string of 20 straight losing seasons — the longest streak in the four major professional sports — with a playoff run that electrified the city.

The Pirates rode Russell Martin's two homers to a 6-2 win over Cincinnati in the wild-card playoff but lost to St. Louis in a five-game division series.

“Even though I didn't lose for the last 20 years, they make you feel like you did,” center fielder Andrew McCutchen said. “That's all you hear, every single day. ‘When's it going to change?' You get sick of hearing that.”

Miggy vs. Trout II

The most-valuable-player debate of 2012 — Detroit slugger Miguel Cabrera or Angels prodigy Mike Trout? — repeated itself in 2013.

Cabrera led the AL in average (.348), on-base percentage (.442) and slugging (.636) and had 44 homers and 137 RBIs. Trout had a .323/.432/.557 slash line with 27 homers, 97 RBIs, 109 runs and 110 walks.

Cabrera beat Trout for the MVP in 2012 and probably will in 2013. “He won the division and is going to the playoffs,” Trout said in late September. “We're going home.”

Day of Puig

Called up on June 3, Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig went two for four and threw from the warning track to first to complete a game-ending double play in his big league debut. The 22-year-old had a score-tying, 443-foot, three-run homer and a two-run blast in his second game, a grand slam in his fourth game and hit .436 in his first month.

There were rough edges — overthrown cutoff men, ill-advised dashes on the bases and a pair of errors in the final game of the NLCS, to name a few — but Puig will provide Dodgers fans with thrills and chills for years.

Cleveland rocks

The Indians, losers of 94 games in 2012, completed a stunning 15-2 finish with a 10-game win streak to nail down their first playoff berth since 2007.

“It's the culmination of everything you've gone through, all the ups and downs,” Manager Terry Francona said. “You see guys from different countries, different upbringings, they're jumping on the pile and it's just pure joy.”

The feeling didn't last long — the Indians lost to Tampa Bay, 4-0, in the wild-card playoff game.

Agony of the feet

No picture captured the thrill of victory and agony of defeat better than the one of Detroit right fielder Torii Hunter flipping over the right-field wall in Fenway Park in a valiant attempt to catch Ortiz's tying grand slam in the eighth inning of Game 2 of the ALCS.

While only Hunter's legs, which formed the letter V, could be seen from the field, a Boston police officer in the back of the bullpen raised both arms in celebration.

The play left Hunter bruised and bloodied, but he remained in the game. “This is the postseason,” said Hunter, 38 and still in search of his first World Series berth. “I'd die on the field for this.”


Twitter: @mikedigiovanna