The linescore makes this obvious, but this game was really decided in the first couple of innings. Neither starter came out with his best stuff, but the Brewers were able to capitalize on the rustiness that Gerrit Cole had after a longer-than-normal laoyff, while the Pirates left runners littered all over the bases against Yovani Gallardo despite hitting the ball awfully hard against him. Andrew McCutchen was stranded at third in the first inning after a triple that was very nearly an inside the park home run, two runners were stranded in the second after Marlon Byrd and John Buck both singled, and two runners were stranded in the fourth after a Gaby Sanchez walk and another Buck single.
By that point, the Brewers were already ahead 3-0. Tim Neverett mentioned as Cole took the mound that he said he felt his breaking ball was flat after his last long layoff, and in the early parts of this game he certainly looked like a pitcher that only had a fastball working. That was what gave him trouble in some of his rough minor league starts this year, as well as a few of his early outings with the Pirates. He did eventually settle in and he cruised through the fifth, sixth, and seventh innings (nine up, nine down thanks to a double play with a strikeout in each inning). Figuring out how to use him at this point in the season is qutie a tightrope for the Pirates; obviously they feel they need to monitor his workload, but holding him out for long stretches between starts seems to be decreasing his effectiveness. I'll be interested to see how they use him from here on out; when trying to figure out his potential max workload back around the break, I guessed that the Pirates would want/need to skip him maybe two or three times. They've used him on eight days rest twice now, which is the equivalent of maybe one or two skipped starts. It's possible that they're doing this maintenance now so that they don't have to do it in the home stretch. We'll see.
Cole's outing really wasn't the problem tonight, though -- the offense was. The Bucs only gathered up three hits after the second inning and they hit into three double plays. Gallardo looked better after the early innings, but I never really thought he reminded me of his old self. That really didn't seem to matter, though, because the Pirates didn't threaten much at all as the game wore on.
With this loss, the Pirates drop to a full game out of first. As the mantra has gone recently, dropping two out of three to the Brewers feels like a missed opportunity. Two or three wins against the Cardinals this weekend will assuage that feeling quite a bit.
Good lord people. Let the pessimists be pessimists. It's not like there isn't any reason for that attitude.
The reason we do that is so that if it happens it doesn't hurt as much. I'm as rah-rah as anyone, but if the Pirates got to 80-60 and then went 0-22, it wouldn't surprise me.
I'm excited as hell about September, and the reason for my excitement is that the Bucs have played their best baseball against the Cardinals and the Reds. Yeah, we're backing the lame horse in this race, I get that. But if there is one way to take this thing, one way that I would prefer over all others, it is head-to-head against the teams we are up against. None of this "We have to beat the Giants and Mets, and they have to lose to the Cubs and Padres" crap. Bring it.
According to Baseball Prospectus, the probability of the Pirates winning the World Series is 5.3%, while the probability of not making the playoffs is 2.3%. To everyone who comes here after every loss to tell us that the collapse is nigh and everyone should be as depressed as they are, I say my biggest dream is still more likely than your worst nightmare.
The 2013 Pittsburgh Pirates are a pretty good baseball team. They have what it takes to make the playoffs, and from there anything can happen. To those who think like me, let's keep the faith. Maybe it won't be rewarded, but I'd rather spend the next month hoping for something big than wallowing in misery like a few people here.
Pretty sure the Cardinals are going to sweep us. I'll be happy if the Pirates can take just one game out of three; Arizona's still the team I'm keeping an eye on.
The Pirates may never be this close to the playoffs again, and in the absence of any evidence whatsoever that limiting innings keeps young pitchers from getting hurt, the Pirates need to keep using Cole every fifth day unless/until he makes it obvious he's exhausted (as Locke did at least three weeks ago and consistently has reinforced with every start).
This is a playoff push. The Pirates of all teams ought to understand that nothing should be held back.
Like I said before, when the Bucs are suddenly unable to beat the Brewers, that's not a good sign. People were telling me, earlier in the season, how well the Pirates were doing, and I'd jokingly say "Don't worry, they'll blow it." Now the awful reality is upon us. I really do think that the collapse of 2013 has begun, and the curse of Barry Bonds is still in effect. Last night was a fluke, I'm convinced.
I know, I know, the season's not over yet, but if the Bucs want to convince me otherwise, they need to start doing something they've had trouble doing for the past month, and that's WIN!
@Eephus Then you wouldn't object to betting $100 against my $5 that they'll make the playoffs, right?
@Eephus Well said; I can understand how the last 20 years can make you anxious, but missing the playoffs? We-lost-t0-the-Brewers-so-we'll-get-swept-by-the-Cards? Children, please.
@justinzeth "Pretty sure the Cardinals are going to sweep us". You are a joke. Next time I see you on this site, I hope it's not as a Pirate fan.
@justinzeth "Pretty sure the Cardinals are going to sweep us".
I would never bank on any garbage you write. Your credibility as a Pirate fan is ruined. Go find a new team to root for if your pretty sure the current team you support will get swept in any three game series.
I'd point out everything wrong with this post...but you seem to have a grasp on this terrible narrative.
@Bryan I'm just telling other Bucs fans not to get their hopes up to high. I can be a little dramatic about it yes, but I've endured this for over 20 years, ever since I was a little Pirates fan back in the day. I get incredibly skeptical when they start to show even the smallest hints of greatness.
I'm not blind to the talent and potential this team has, but the proof is in the pudding. Until they can lift themselves out of these Aug-Sept slumps they always seem to have, I forsee another epic collapse for this team.
I want to be wrong, though. Please, prove me wrong, Bucs. I'm begging you to make me eat my words.
@DouggieB@Bryan "I'm just telling other Bucs fans not to get their hopes up to high"
Who the hell made you the fan police and gave you the authority to tell other Pirate fans how to behave? You have every right to rant, just like optimistic fans have every right to be, well, optimistic. The bickering after every loss just gets tiresome
@DouggieB You are correct. I know nothing about you DouggieB and your frustration. But I too have endured the Pirates not scoring a run in the final 22 innings of the 1991 NLCS, the Sid Bream play at the plate in the 1992 NLCS, and of course the 20 straight losing seasons since. Heck the last time Pirates had a winning season I was 19 years old. I am 40. As far as collapses, yes we did collapse in 1991, 1992, and 2012. 2011's team just overachieved early in my opinion so I do not consider that year a collapse because they still ended up winning 15 more games than in 2010.
So if you look big picture, things have changed dramatically in this organization over the past 6 years and there is a lot to be positive about these days.....
2007 - New Ownership/New GM
2007 - Minor League system ranked 23rd in all of baseball.
2010 - 57 Wins,
2011 - New Manager
2011 - 72 Wins
2012 - 79 Wins
2013 - 77 Wins and counting, 1.0 GB of 1st place and lead final wildcard by 8.5 games with 30 games left.
2013 - Minor league system ranked 6th in all of baseball.
My point in all of this as a die-hard Pirate fan, go back and read my first paragraph but still know I am still very excited about this weekend because I love this Pirates team and I believe in all the players! I think many of the 115,000 fans who will pack PNC this weekend do too. And yes, there will be lots, and I mean LOTS of tears of relief and joy on this end when they win #82 here in a week or two. More tears if they make the playoffs, even if it only a wildcard birth. I guess IMO, that's what loving and supporting your team (especially when management finally puts a good team on the field like this one) is really about.
@DouggieB I get the YOU'RE NOT A REAL FAN ritual every time I suggest the Steelers might not go 19-0.
You know nothing about me, Jeffery. Both my parents were from Pittsburgh. My father, god rest his soul, took me to many Pirate games in my life, and would tell me all about the good times he had watching them win the 1960 World Series, and later on in the 70's.
What am I supposed to do in order to be considered a real fan? Just stay quiet about this team's glaring flaws while they continue to lose, season after season after season? I want them to succeed, damn it, but how can you blindly support a team that has fallen apart at the end so many times? Do you have any idea how frustrating that is?