As of the All Star break the Pittsburgh Pirates were 10 games above .500 and leading the NL Central. Pirate’s fans were again reaching for that elusive playoff lollipop. And again, the Pirates seemed to have snatched it away.
I think most people expected Cincinnati to make a push for the lead but everyone in Pittsburgh still expected the Pirate’s to continue to challenge for 1 of the 2 Wild Card spots if and when they lost the actual division lead. It was not unthinkable. At that time Atlanta was 3rd in the NL East and St. Louis was third in the Central and neither seemed to be making much head way at getting better. The Pirate’s on the other hand had just completed an 8 and 2 run that saw them beat the Cards and Giants 2 of 3 and the Astros in a 4 game sweep.
So what happened?
They still finished the month of July with a winning record and even though they lost their grip on 1st in the Central, they were tied with Atlanta for the WC. For a second season in a row they were buyers instead of sellers at the trade deadline. They obtained Gaby Sanchez from Miami and Travis Snider from Toronto. Both players helped shore up their positions and actually improved on their BA’s from the teams they left. No problems right?
Wrong. The month of August saw the team take a dive like a crooked boxer. They went 10 – 17 during the month. As luck would have it though, they were still only a ½ game out of a WC position.
No problem right?
Wrong again. They are 2-9 in their last 11 games and currently on a five game losing streak. They are now 2 ½ games out of the last WC spot, they have to overcome two teams now and not just one, and they show no signs of their early season success.
So again I ask, what happened? Well Pirates fans, it’s a combination of both sides of the plate.
Let’s begin with the pitching. At the All Star break the Pirates had the 4th best team ERA in the NL and the third lowest BA against. They were not striking many batters out but they minimized the damage when contact was made. After the All Star break they fell to be the 13th team ERA overall and for the month of September alone they are dead last in wins recorded by the staff. They have only 1 save opportunity this month, and they blew that save. And one stat that is really glaring to me is one that many fans pay no attention to but I feel is extremely important. Their bull pen has zero holds for the month. In fact they have a 0-5 record during that span.
But it is not all on the pitching staff. The Pirate’s offense has been no better. Their team batting average for this month is an abysmal .216. They have the 3rd highest strikeout total with 84 k’s. And the team has only scored 33 runs during these 9 games.
So the combination of not scoring runs, poor starting pitching and giving up the lead in late innings is a well stirred recipe for disaster. Just ask the Braves and Red Sox of 2011, that was pretty much what happened to them.
I hate to rain on a Pittsburgh parade but to Pirate’s fans; better luck next year…………..again.
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