I have been out for the better part of two weeks with only being able to get up live blogs for the games but I should be able to do stuff on a more consistent basis now and instead of doing just a game recap for the God awful game that the Pirates played today I would just take a look at the series as a whole.
I was at the first two games of the series on Friday and Saturday night and then watched today's game on TV and truth be told the Pirates are pretty lucky they got out of town with a win. The Pirates offense pretty bad outside of Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker and they reverted back to the early season struggles as they struck out 44 times in the three game set which included 17 today. Just a really brutal day today and pretty brutal series in terms of striking out.
While the hitting struggled a bit the pitching wasn't much better. I am not really sure if it was the extended break or just a bad couple of games but in a series where you have James McDonald, Kevin Correia and A.J. Burnett going you don't expect your only win to come on the day that Correia pitches. McDonald only went 4.2 innings and threw 109 pitches and gave up five runs. Burnett had a pretty nice start today but got stung by some really bad defense. The bullpen on Friday was just as bad as McDonald giving up five runs. The Pirates couldn't find the plate and it killed them early in the series.
Outside of the strikeouts the offense really wasn't that bad. The Pirates got seven runs on Friday and six more on Saturday before having a pretty terrible outing today but things like that happen.
The Pirates just played some pretty sloppy baseball all weekend. None was more evident than the sixth inning today when the Pirates were nursing a one run lead and gave up a four spot thanks to a horrific play by Garrett Jones in right field and then a botched ball down the line that Pedro Alvarez couldn't make. Although there was only one error charged in the inning it could have been like four. On Saturday night the Brewers botched a few balls that led to a big inning by the Pirates and it was the total opposite today as the Pirates threw the ball around and it came back to hurt them.
Things weren't all bad. Like I said the Pirates only lost one game in the standings and they are still ten games over .500. The pitching is going to come around as I don't think we will see another outing from McDonald like that and Burnett actually threw a really nice game today and just couldn't get any offensive help.
Neil Walker collected hits in each game of the series and now holds a 15 game hitting streak. He has been absolutely on fire since the middle of June and has his average up to almost .300 and is damn near a three win player according to FanGraphs. He has been as productive as ever and has really helped the offense score some runs.
If there is an argument for the best player in baseball right now you should slap the person that is making the argument because McCutchen is the best player in baseball and it really isn't even close. Cutch was 7-for-12 against the Brewers with a home run in each game and a couple walks to boot. His triple slash line is up to .371/.423/.651 and now has 21 home runs after having 23 all of last year. He is just on another level than any other player in baseball. It was really awesome to walk around Saturday night in my McCutchen jersey and have Brewers fans just gush over how good he is. The landmark moment for me was sitting next to a guy who brought his son and his son's friend to the game. The friend was at his first game ever and when McCutchen came to the plate for the first time the dad leaned over and said "hey, you want to watch this guy that is batting hit, he is a future MVP." That is great stuff to hear. I have never seen a guy play as well offensively as Cutch has in my whole lifetime as a Pirates fan and just when you think he can't get any better, he does. He doesn't just roll balls through the infield, when he makes contact he CRUSHES the baseball. Just unreal.
I am not sure if the All-Star break has anything to do with it but Alvarez really had a forgettable series against the Brewers. He struck out three more times today and seven times in the series and only had one hit which was a home run on Friday. He came up all weekend with runners in scoring position and less than two outs and did nothing with it. Just a really frustrating series for him so hopefully he has that out of his system and gets back to the way he was hitting prior to the break.
As I said the Pirates are pretty lucky to even have a win on this series but it could have been a lot worse. They go to Colorado now to play a pretty bad Rockies team and a series win will get things all back on the right path.