Andrew McCutchen stayed on the bench all afternoon, AJ Burnett gave up five runs, and Kyle Farnsworth was the Pirates' closer.
Despite all that, the Pirates finished up a sweep of the Texas Rangers (who need wins every bit as badly as the Pirates do right now) with a 7-5 win this afternoon that was at least a little bit easier than last night's white-knuckler. I meanm, yes, the Pirates did very nearly blow a 4-0 lead for the second game in a row, and yes, the bullpen was harrowing despite not technically allowing any runs (Jeanmar Gomez allowed two inherited runners to score, then Bryan Morris put on two of the three hitters he faced before Vin Mazzaro put his fire out), but the Pirates scored three insurance runs (one of them on a Clint Barmes homer!) and Farnsworth only needed ten pitches to record his first save since 2011.
With the win, the Pirates are 84-61 heading into the last homestand of the year. That homestand will see a four-game set against the Cubs, a four-gamer against the Padres, and three games against the Reds. The Reds trounced the Cubs this afternoon, so the Pirates' lead over them remains at two games. The Cardinals and Brewers are starting in about a half an hour, and if the Brewers can somehow find a way to win, the Pirates will return home in a first place tie. Given where things were on Sunday afternoon, the Pirates are in a pretty good place for now.
The Bucs got a Rangers team that was struggling, and did what you do to a team that is scuffling--put a foot on their throat. The Bucs need to take the Cubs and Padres behind the woodshed.
The Bucs can't let happen to them what just happened with the Redlegs. Cincy won 3 highly competitive tight games vs the stronger than hell Dodgers last weekend at home at that horrible GABP venue and then turn around and drop 2 of 3 home games to the much lesser Cubbies. 4 with the Cubs and 4 with the Padres had better bring us 5-6 wins leading us into that last home series of year - against those damn Redlegs.
Another thought or question....What happened to the Pirates off days in September? Only 2? On Sept 5th and 26th - 3 weeks apart. The Cards situation is almost as bad with 2, on Sept 9 and 26th. Meanwhile, the lucky Redlegs get 3, the 12th, 19th and 26th - all Thursdays. What, Cincy can only play one Thursday game in September? Who made those rules? I'd say off days the last few weeks of the season are just as or more important than the opponent you are about to play. Anyone else wonder about the discrepancy here? Did Cincy get to call the shots on this schedule a year ago? Just wondering....
I don't necessarily want to see the Bucs make a habit of giving up 4 or 5 runs, but it's nice to see them give up 4 or 5 runs and win. That is a promising sign this time of year, actually.
I was hoping they would go 4-5 on that tough road trip. 5-4 is sweet, even with the Card sweep. Hoping to win 8 of 11 on homestand and takeover 1st for good.
The magic number for the Pirates making the playoffs is ten. That means the magic number for the Pirates magic number to make the playoffs being in the single digits is one. I like that.
@mwr505 Houston moving to the AL meant that MLB's schedule makers had to throw out all the models they had previously used and design something from scratch, including year-round interleague play. So we got a four-game series spread across two cities, 3-weeks straight with no off-days in April and again in September, four off-days in the three weeks leading to the All-Star break, and not seeing a division opponent for three and a half months (out of a six month season). No conspiracy, just a new situation that they didn't quite figure out how to deal with. I haven't looked too hard at next year, but hopefully they've fixed a few things.
@Eephus @mwr505 When you look at next year can you answer me one more time? You are kind with your approach, not snarky like some. What happened to playing Cleveland in intraleague games? I'm okay with meeting up with the Tigers but an annual series vs the Tribe would be more helpful to local traveling fans. You'll see that the Bucs play another 4 game series next year vs Detroit, split 2/2 just like in June of this year, but no games vs Tribe.
@MattGajtka @mwr505 @Eephus Yeah, I might not remember back that far, but I don't think we were ever "natural rivals" with Cleveland. They were playing Cincy, Baltimore playing DC and Philly, which left us with no one. Detroit works out in a "let's compare our post-industrial economies" way. And I actually think the four-day, two-city series was ok. It's a long season, gotta do something different once in a while.