First Pitch: The Pirates Need to Find Some Way to Beat Milwaukee

The Pirates couldn't beat the Brewers with A.J. Burnett taking on the struggling Marco Estrada. Photo Credit: David Hague

The Pirates couldn’t beat the Brewers with A.J. Burnett taking on the struggling Marco Estrada. Photo Credit: David Hague

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.


**Prospect Watch: Sanchez Has a Doubles Streak Going, Herrera Continues Hot May.

**Draft Prospect Watch: Weekend Recap, Where Do We Stand?

**Minor Moves: Jake Burnette Added to West Virginia, Clay Holmes to the DL.

**Top Performers: Felix Pie Starts Hitting, While Josh Bell Continues.

**Top Performers: Sadler Leads a Great Week For Pirates Pitching Prospects.

**Early Preview of the 2013 International Signing Class, Pirates Not In On Top Names.

**Andy Oliver Named the International League Pitcher of the Week.

**Minor League Schedule: 5/14/13.


**The Brewers Just Stole Another Base…

**Jeff Karstens Goes Three Innings in a Rehab Start For Bradenton.

**Pirates Reinstate Walker, Option Jordy Mercer.

**Anthony Rizzo’s Extension is a Good Guide For Starling Marte.

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Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

First Pitch: The Pirates Should…But the Pirates Will…

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First Pitch: Taking the Jordy Mercer Approach With Tony Sanchez

  • leadoff

    I am convinced the Brewers could show up with their AA affiliate and beat the Pirates. The only suggestion that I have is if they make a bargain with the Brewers to change uniforms before the game.
    All kidding aside, McHenry’s inability to throw a baseball, which did not just start last night, some of the hits the Brewers had should not have been classified as hits, the SS had 3 hits and only one of them left the infield and that was a broken bat blooper. Sanchez played 1st base like he was in a fog.
    The Pirates have not been able to beat the Brewers since 2007, the cast for both teams is almost completely different, but the player types are the same.
    I think there are actual reasons why the Pirates can’t beat the Brewers, not a fluke, not a curse, not in their heads, just baseball reasons.

  • rburgh

    Hey! The Bucs found a way to beat the Brew Crew – keep it close, get into their pen, and scratch out some late runs. Sound like a familiar script? It should. It’s been working in baseball for years.

  • pitwalker18

    I disagree that Pirates need to obsess about beating the Brewers. They should focus more energy on a team that will actually compete in the division. If they can just break even with the Brewers and win the series verse the Cardinals and Reds that would be something to put them over the top in this division.

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