First Pitch: The Pirates Need to Find Some Way to Beat Milwaukee
Today there were 12 articles and updates that went up on the site. That should give you plenty to read. Or at least that’s the excuse I’m using to go with some thoughts for tonight’s First Pitch, rather than a normal article. Hey, I’m tired from driving back from Clearwater where I was watching Jeff Karstens pitch.
The Pirates lost to the Brewers tonight by a score of 5-1. I didn’t follow the game too closely, but I did follow enough to know the storylines:
**The Pirates had their ace, the Brewers had a guy putting up horrible numbers, and the ace struggled while the non-ace looked like an ace.
**Michael McKenry can’t throw out a base runner.
**The Pirates can’t beat Milwaukee, even at home.
The first point isn’t that notable. These things happen. You win games starting guys like Marco Estrada, and you lose games to guys like Marco Estrada. The Pirates are 3-0 when Jeanmar Gomez starts, and that includes when he starts against Matt Harvey. There’s going to be times where it’s the opposite and their ace loses to someone else’s number four or five starter.
The second point on McKenry is something we’ve known. It also makes us realize how important Russell Martin has been, and how much better his defense is. Pair McKenry with A.J. Burnett, and you’re going to get a 6-for-6 night on the bases.
The third point is the most important one here. I wrote a few weeks ago that the only way the Pirates can contend is if they find a way to beat Milwaukee. It’s almost impossible to contend while posting an extreme losing record against a team that you play as often as Milwaukee. Last year the Pirates were 4-11 against the Brewers. There’s talk that Miller Park is the House of Horrors, but the Pirates went 3-6 at Miller Park and 1-5 at home. So it’s not something where you can just chalk this up to playing poorly on the road. They have been playing the Brewers poorly no matter what.
I was thinking about this on the drive home. It’s almost like the Pirates are defeated before they even take the field against Milwaukee. The above situations happen, where a lesser pitcher beats you and your ace has a rough night. But it seems like those situations happen all the time when the Pirates play the Brewers.
It got me thinking about the Navy SEALs training. Beyond all of the cries over that training, one of the main focus points was visualization. The theory was that if you visualize a bad outcome, chances are that bad outcome is going to come true. If you visualize a good outcome, you’re more likely to put yourself in the right frame of mind to make that good outcome a reality.
Tom Bragg had a stunning stat in his game recap tonight. In 97 games against the Brewers since 2007, the Pirates have lost 72. That’s a horrid winning percentage. You’ve got to figure that it wears on the players. When fans see Milwaukee on the schedule, the thought isn’t “There’s Milwaukee, and they’ve got a bad record, so maybe the Pirates will have a better chance.” The thought usually is “There’s Milwaukee. I don’t care what their record is, there’s no chance the Pirates beat them.” With all of the losing, there have to be some players who go into a Milwaukee series with the same thinking. I don’t see how you could lose almost 75% of your games against one team and avoid that.
The Pirates are looking good this year, and as we pointed out last week, projections have them finishing with a winning season. Until they find a way to beat Milwaukee, they’re going to have an impossible time trying to contend in the National League. And guess who they play six more times this month? Those six games against Milwaukee will be some of the most important games of the season, just because the Pirates need to eventually find some way to beat the Brewers.
Now, on to all of those articles from today…
Links and Notes
**The 2013 Prospect Guide and the 2013 Annual are both available on the products page of the site. If you order them together, you’ll save $5.
**Check out the new episode of the Pirates Prospects Podcast: P3 Episode 3: What To Do With Alvarez, Gomez, and Mercer; Casey Sadler Interview.