Another night, another really frustrating game for the Pirates. Not getting beat by a better team frustrated but getting beat by the Astros for the second night in a row frustrated. The Pirates offense was bad again and the bullpen has welcomed winter in a big way giving up a ton of runs in the sixth inning to put the team in a deficit that they just couldn’t come back from. Just tough to watch.
Charlie Morton failed to pick up his 10th win for the fourth straight start although his outing really wasn’t terrible. Morton only went 5.1 innings and gave up six hits and struck out eight, but he also walked four and gave up his first home run to a right handed hitter since 2010. Morton’s final line was that he gave up four earned runs but a subpar performance from Chris Leroux was somewhat responsible for two of those runs. Morton’s stuff wasn’t overwhelming, but he did have some better movement on his pitches than his last start. To be honest I don’t think it really mattered how well Morton pitched, the offense wasn’t giving him anything to work with.
The game really unraveled in the sixth inning when the Astros scored six runs and only managed to have one extra base hit. Really tough to watch that inning. I talked about how Leroux didn’t have a good outing, and saying that it just “wasn’t good” is just giving him the benefit of the doubt. Leroux came in and relieved Morton and failed to record an out and give up three runs on four hits in only 12 pitches. Now, don’t get me wrong, Leroux has been pretty good of recent and one outing doesn’t make or break a player, it just wasn’t pretty for him tonight.
I am sure most people will bring up the pitching, most notably the bullpen, when we talk about the stretch of games that have been played recently, but the offense is just as much of a problem as the pitching has been. Last night the Pirates went down 16 times and tonight they struck out 11 times. They managed only a couple of hits (literally, a couple) and never even stressed the Astros defense with anything that could even be confused with scoring opportunities. Ronny Cedeno was the only capable hitter at the plate tonight with a 2-for-2 night and scored one of the Pirates two runs, but outside of that only Alex Presley and Andrew McCutchen had a hit. Just a really bad performance by the offense.
McCutchen had one of the four this tonight and his came in the ninth inning and might get looked over but it was a home run and with that home run it put him in the 20-20 club (20 home runs, 20 stolen bases). Only Nate McLouth, Jason Bay, Kevin Young, Al Martin, Barry Bonds, Andy Van Slyke and Dave Parker have accomplished that feat as a Pittsburgh Pirate. He becomes the first since McLouth did it in the 2008 season. Congrats Cutch.
I have seen more than a few people saying that the Pirates players don’t care and that they have given up on the season. I couldn’t disagree with that more. These players care, a lot. This is their job and if they don’t care they wouldn’t have a job. The team just isn’t that good. When you are sending out an everyday lineup with Josh Harrison, Xavier Paul and Brandon Wood in it you aren’t a good team. The team has got better and is capable of playing good baseball, as we saw earlier in the year, but they just aren’t there yet. Unless you have first hand knowledge of a player giving up you really have no idea. What we see on TV, during the game, of almost all of these players is maybe 5% of what they do, baseball related, on a day to day basis. For a three hour game we might see Andrew McCutchen for 20 minutes. Most people don’t think that he is at the ballpark for 10-12 hours a day but can judge him on the 20 minutes they see of him on one day for one game. Pretty absurd isn’t it?
Back at it tomorrow.