Just another brutal loss to a team that the Pirates shouldn't lose to. Sure the Cubs had Jeff Samardzija on the bump and he has been just outstanding all season but the Bucs got out to a 2-0 lead only to give it back. The Cubs held a 3-2 lead until Jeff Clement (!) drove home the tying run in the bottom of the seventh inning only to have the Cubs come back and score a two out run off Jason Grilli in the top half of the eighth inning. Not idea. The Pirates went down weakly in the eighth and ninth.
I remember around the All Star break when I was talking out loud on Twitter about what the Pirates win total would be at the end of the year and I said they could probably max out at 86 wins. A lot of people came back at me with how many times the team was playing the Brewers and Astros and Cubs as to why the Pirates might be able to get 95 wins. When I told them that just because they play those teams doesn't mean they are going to win those games and most people didn't buy it. This is why. The Cubs aren't that good, nor are the Astros or Brewers but they are still major league baseball teams and still capable of winning games. Couple that with the fact that the Pirates are coming back to Earth it really shows why 86 wins is probably the high end of the wins.
This game wasn't overly terrible as James McDonald wasn't horrible but it was a game that earlier in the year they were winning with a clutch hit and they just didn't get that tonight. Pedro Alvarez was the only guy who really came through offensively with a pair of doubles but when the bottom of your lineup contains Alex Presley in the six spot followed by Barmes and Barajas you are going to struggle.
For much of the year the Pirates have been a team that lives and dies by the home run. When they are hitting the ball out of the park they are a tough team to beat. Tonight was the fifth straight game where the Pirates haven't homered and previously they would have won a game with a blast or two but tonight they didn't get one and they lose. It isn't a great hitting team and is a terrible team at getting on base and when they aren't hitting the ball out of the ballpark they are going to have a tough time scoring runs.
For what it is worth I have no idea how Barajas is still in the lineup on a consistent basis. His line is down to .196/.269/.325 and he has been trotted out there for the third consecutive night. I have no idea why. He should be playing MAYBE once a week and any more of that is just a testament to how out of touch Clint Hurdle is and how embarrassingly bad it is that he sticks with veterans.
In the same breath I have no idea how Presley is in the lineup. You can't play him. He has been nothing short of terrible this season. I know you might call be bias but I have not been high on Presley even back to last season when I thought he should have been traded at the deadline but he just has horrible at bats. Having him in the six spot is really embarrassing.
I know this just seems like a rant on what is bad but at this point the Pirates are doing a lot of bad things. When Travis Snider comes back into the lineup I think it is a must that you move Starling Marte down in the lineup. While I like what Marte brings to the table he just isn't getting on base and having a lot of bad at bats to be hitting at the top of the lineup. It is a small sample size but Marte is only hitting .240/.278/.400 and that isn't going to cut it up top. We knew when he came up that he didn't have much plate discipline and that is really translating into his major league at bats. He can still improve on this but I just don't think he can cut it at the top of the lineup. Move him down to the six spot when Snider comes back and get some pressure off him.
Andrew McCutchen just continues to slide. It is tough to call out a guy who carried this team for the first half of the year but he went 0-for-3 tonight with three strikeouts and just hasn't look the same in the past two months. I keep hoping he is going to figure it out but it is getting harder to figure out as the games go by.
I wasn't really sold on the Pirates being a playoff team because I just thought the Cardinals and Dodgers were better teams but somehow they are still hanging in the wild card race. They have to turn it around soon. I keep trying to be optimistic but every game gets closer to there being no hope of the Pirates being in the playoffs. I know I have said this before but I really don't care about breaking the losing streak. I am not cheering for 82 wins because I am not a big believer in cheering for mediocrity, but that is just me. Would it be nice to win 82 games? Sure, but if the Pirates get 80 wins that doesn't mean this season was bad, because this season has been a pretty overwhelming success.