The Pirates (barely) won a game yesterday. If they win today and win tomorrow, they will be 1 1/2 games out of the last NL wild card spot. That is, of course, getting ahead of ourselves. One day at a time, right? Today, Jeff Locke makes his seventh big league start, still in search of his first win. His opponent is Chris Volstad, who is really not very good. First pitch today is at 2:20.no comments
There are 20 days left in the Major League baseball season. The Pittsburgh Pirates have 20 games left. Largely, the way that we remember this 2012 season will be dictated by these 20 games. The Pirates need 10 wins to clinch their first winning season since 1992; I don't think that finishing 19-33 is an accomplishment, but it is something that will be remembered. The Pirates probably need 15 wins to have a realistic chance at the second wild card. Baseball Prospectus currently projects the race for the NL wild card #2 thusly:
- Cardinals: 87 wins
- Dodgers: 83 wins
- Pirates: 82 wins
- Brewers: 82 wins
- Diamondbacks: 82 wins
- Phillies: 81 wins
I've adjusted the Cardinals down to 85 in my head, because they've been nearly as bad as the Pirates lately. This is probably not wise. They have 18 games remaining; three in LA this weekend, then nine against the Cubs and Astros (six of those nine), then they finish with six against the Nationals and Reds, neither of whom will have anything to play for at that point in the season. They will probably win more than nine of those games, if we're being honest with ourselves.
Still, 85 wins should be more than enough to put the Cardinals past the Pirates. Think about this: the Pirates would need to win 15 of their last 20 games to even have a chance at catching the Cards, most likely. The Pirates recorded their 55th win on July 27th. That means they've won 15 of their last 42. This is a tall task.
And yet! The Pirates can't possibly be as bad as they've been lately. As down as we all get about this kind of thing, they're not a 15-27 team. They're better than that. Maybe it's better to start there than at 10 wins or 15 wins in these last 20 games: Win one game. Play a complete baseball game from start to finish, where routine plays get made and hits get strung together and the Pirates score more runs than their opponents. This is not a tall task against the current incarnation of the Chicago Cubs, last weekend notwithstanding.
There are a million "what-if" scenarios to play through right now. If the Pirates had just won three of these last six games -- something they certainly had ample opportunity to do -- they'd be tied with the Cardinals. We could go even wider; if they'd won just 18 of these last 42 games instead of 15 they'd be tied with the Cardinals. None of these things really matter because the Pirates didn't win those games. They're over. All that's left for the team now is to play the games in front of them, try to win as many as possible, and let the universe do what it will with the other teams. The last six weeks have been disastrous, but the last three weeks don't have to be, even if the Pirates can't play themselves back into the playoffs.
There are 20 one-game seasons left in 2012. The first one is today, in Chicago, at 2:20. James McDonald and Chris Rusin.
This is the final off-day of the 2012 season. The next time the Pirates don't play a baseball game, the season will be over and we'll all be sitting around picking up the pieces of this wreck. This is the fourth consecutive Thursday the Pirates have not played. The first Thursday was the Pirates' first off-day after their 22-games-in-22-days slide that started this whole collapse. This is the Pirates' record on each of those Thursdays:
- August 23: 67-57
- August 30: 70-60
- September 6: 72-64
- September 13: 72-70
Things are not progressing in the right direction.no comments
I don't even care who wins. The Pirates just tried a squeeze with a runner on third and one out in the top of the sixth inning that was so predictable the Reds pitched out and Alex Presley slid right into an out. Nick Leyva was literally whispering to Alex Presley on third base, as if he wanted the entire world to know it was coming. I'm not watching the end of this game. I don't think I'm watching any more Pirate games this year.no comments
About a week ago, after the Pirates lost their first game to the Cubs, my dad made a comment about how far 82 wins seemed from 72, even with a lot of the season left. My response was that even 74 or 75 wins would seem a lot closer. The Pirates obviously haven't won a game since that conversation and now 74 or 75 wins seems like it's about a million miles away today.
AJ Burnett pitches against Homer Bailey tonight in a game that still somehow has playoff implications, as the Dodgers, Cardinals, and Pirates freefall towards the Brewers and Cardinals. First pitch at 7:10. Watch at your own risk.
I was just putting the finishing touches on a 1,700 word blog post about how I didn't have anything to say about the Pirates right now, when my computer (which has been so buggy since I 'upgraded' it to Mountain Lion that it's been borderline unusuable) hard-crashed and ate the whole thing. The sense of timing (me being that far into a post about having nothing to say, an Apple product being incredibly buggy and terrible while I was reading a liveblog about Apple's magic new iPhone) is pretty spectacular, but as a result, I really have nothing to say about the Pirates today.
Yesterday's summary: the Pirates made me too sad to think about baseball.
Today's update: Holding strong
No change is forseen in the forecast.
The Pirates are still "playing baseball" for at least a little while longer. I bet if you turn the game on your TV, you'll see something frustrating happen. I have my own softball game tonight, plus I value my sanity. I will not be turning the game on. Honestly, I'm so far past checked out on this team that it's sad, given where things were just a few weeks ago.
Kevin Correia and Mike Leake. 7:10.
When talking about this game, pretty much everyone is going to mention Wandy Rodriguez getting pulled too early seventh inning. After a season of sitting on his hands most of the times that his starters struggle, Clint Hurdle decided that TONIGHT was the night to get Wandy Rodriguez out of the game at the first sign of trouble, even though at the point he was pulled he'd only allowed just three hits in 6 2/3 innings and he'd had very little trouble with Dioner Navarro at any point during his first two plate appearances. You know what? Honestly, I didn't think it was an indefensible move. Navarro's got a bad platoon split as a left-handed hitter and Hughes has been flat-out excellent his last few times out. I thought Rodriguez had a few mroe outs in him, but honestly, what do you have a bullpen for if it's not to get big outs? There is an alternate timeline that's running parallel to this one in which Hurdle left Wandy on the mound and Wandy served up a two-run double to Navarro and everything else played out exactly the same, including all of the outrage at Hurdle over leaving Rodriguez on the mound. I dunno. I guess I get why people are upset, but that particular move didn't strike me as so hugely egregious.
If we want to sit around and pick out Clint Hurdle Decisions That Were Completely Befuddling from this debacle, I still can't figure out why Chase d'Arnaud ran for Garrett Jones in the 10th inning. Andrew McCutchen drew a leadoff walk against Aroldis Chapman to lead off the tenth. Jones followed up with a second straight walk, and was immediately replaced. Chase d'Arnaud doesn't really do anything well other than run; he's a poor defensive short-stop and he's a terrible hitter. He'd make a great pinch-runner, except that he wasn't even the lead runner. Slotting him into the lineup took Jordy Mercer's glove out of the game and gave the Pirates a d'Arnaud/Alvarez/Tabata 4-5-6. What does that accomplish, if it's not putting good speed on the bases to score the go-ahead run? As it turned out, d'Arnaud batted instead of Jones twice. Once was with the bases loaded and no outs in the 14th inning, after Alfredo Simon had just walked Eric Fryer. d'Arnaud swung at the first pitch and made an out, then couldn't make the play on the ball in the hole in the bottom of the 14th.
I could keep going, but it all feels academic at this point. With their season melting down around them, the Pirates somehow found themselves in the 14th inning of a game with Brock Holt, Jose Tabata, Eric Fryer, Chase d'Arnaud, and Rick van den Hurk on the field. Every single one of those guys was in Triple-A at some point in August for good reason. Gaby Sanchez and Starling Marte, in Triple-A in July, were out there, too. I know the club is dealing with injuries and I know that long games necessitate double switches, but how on earth can you finish a Major League Baseball game in a playoff race with Eric Fryer in right field while Garrett Jones was pointlessly swapped out for a pinch-runner four innings earlier? How can that be allowed to happen?
I remember being livid after the 19-inning loss to Atlanta last year, over umpiring, over poor managing, over everything. After this one, though? I don't really feel anything. If Eric Fryer and Chase d'Arnaud and Rick van den Hurk are the best the Pirates can do, what's the point in even getting upset? The Jolly Roger is down and the white flag is up. Same Old Pirates. So it goes.
Here it is: the Pirates are still in the playoff race on September 10th because the Cardinals and Dodgers have played bad baseball lately. This will not continue indefinitely through the end of the season, though I feel like the Pirates' slide might. This might be an unfair standard to apply, but I feel completely justified in doing so after this past weekend.
So the Pirates have to pull out of this slump for real, which is something they've been trying and failing to do for a month now. Why should this time be different? I obviously have no real answers, but that doesn't mean it's impossible. Wandy Rodriguez, who's been the Pirates' best pitcher recently, takes the mound. Mat Latos goes for the Reds, while the Cardinals play out in the Pirates' own personal house of horrors in San Diego tonight. The Reds have almost nothing to play for at this point. The Pirates have everything on the line. Let's hope that makes the difference. First pitch is at 7:10.