First Pitch: The Disappointing Results Against Bad Teams

You could call it a collapse. You could call it a regression. You could use whatever word you want. I think all Pirates fans would agree that one word fits the most: disappointing.

Whether the Pirates were legitimately as good as they played through the month of July, the fact is that they were 59-44 heading in to August. They probably aren’t as good as their June and July numbers, and we couldn’t expect that going forward. But they did have an advantage: an easy schedule.

The final two months were loaded with games against the Cubs, Astros, Padres, Mets, and other teams with poor records. The Pirates didn’t have to do much to continue their winning ways. The schedule was giving them a big advantage. But they haven’t capitalized on that advantage. Take a look at the following records against the teams with losing records since August 1st.

San Diego Padres (69-75): 1-5

Chicago Cubs (57-87): 1-4

Houston Astros (46-99): 2-1

Those games against the Padres and Cubs really hurt, especially the Cubs games in the last week. Those numbers need to be reversed. The Pirates needed to go 9-2 in those games, not 2-9.

Then there’s the teams hovering around .500, making a late season surge.

Arizona Diamondbacks (71-72): 2-2

Milwaukee Brewers (72-72): 1-5

The Arizona series isn’t bad. But the Milwaukee games are horrible. Granted, the Brewers have been hot in the second half, but that shouldn’t matter to contenders. A contender should at least split a series with a .500 team. The Pirates made up for this a bit by going 4-2 against the Cardinals, although they’ve also gone 1-5 against the Reds.

Say what you want about “Any Given Sunday” and how you have to play the games. The fact is that over the long haul, a contender doesn’t win one out of five against a team like the Cubs, or one out of six against a team like the Padres. Maybe that happens once, to one team. But that’s not the case with the Pirates. It’s happening with almost every losing team they face.

This would be a great point in the season to turn things around. The Pirates have three games against the Cubs, three against Milwaukee, three against Houston, and four against the Mets. This is the easiest stretch anyone could ask for in September. Yet they got off to a bad start today, getting shut down by another no-name pitcher.

Right now it all has the feel of those seasons where the Pirates would finish last, or as one of the four worst teams in the league. No name pitchers completely shut them down. Their own pitchers give up damage in the first inning. And when the team falls behind, there’s a feeling that the game is already over with no chance of a comeback, no matter how early it is. That’s probably because when they actually get people on base, there’s a feeling that they’d be lucky to score more than one run, even if the bases are loaded with no outs.

That wasn’t the case earlier in the year. The team battled and fought back. They came though in clutch situations. Not every situation, but enough to make a difference. They dominated the bad teams, and held their own against the good teams. If they want any chance at turning this season around, they need to get back to that immediately. Because losing another series against the Cubs will pretty much signal the end of the season for the Pirates.

Links and Notes

**The Pirates lost to the Cubs 7-4.

**Pirates Notebook: Should McDonald Skip A Start in the Rotation?

**Taking a look at Jose Tabata’s speed.

**Deadspin calls this the worst season ever. If they finish below .500, I’d have to agree.

**Bryan Morris finally made his MLB debut, pitching a scoreless inning and needing nine pitches.

**As of this writing, the Dodgers were leading the Cardinals 8-4. If the score holds, the Pirates would remain 3.0 games back in the Wild Card race.

Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.

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The Pirates have fallen down and they can’t get up! At this point in time, talent has nothing to do with the Pirates, nor does the opponent. Some teams come out flat and lose a game, the Pirates are flat every game these days.
There isn’t a player anywhere that they could get that would help them, they would just find another way to lose, words like contender have nothing to do with the current Pirates.
Every hitter looks like he needs glasses, every pitcher looks like he is trying to aim every pitch to get it exactly where it needs to be.
Worn, Attitude, Maturity are more appropriate, all words that there are no stats for and worse than that, there are no fixes the rest of the way this season, there is no way to convince fans that these are the real problems with the Pirates.
Could they have headed these problems off earlier in the year if they knew what was going to happen? Possibly, if Maturity is the problem, the answer is no. If worn or attitude is the problem, the answer is yes, these 2 problems would fall under management, field management.
Right now instead of a manager, they might want to hire a good Phycologist.

Lee Young

I am thoroughly disappointed and wondering if I can even get excited about NEXT year if they play well through July. If they can collapse from 16 games over .500 in LESS THAN two months…..what does that portend for future seasons?

After two collapses in a row and 19 years of losing, my hope for 2013 is nearly gone.

Sorry to be Donald Downer, but that is honestly how I feel this morn.


HAS this team quit on the fans, each other and the coaches?


It’s disappointing that the Pirates are pretty much going to lose if they get behind. Comeback wins have been few since the ASB. Obviously starting pitching puts you in the hole if not up to par. Relief pitching has not been a disaster, but is not what it was before the ASB. And what has happened to cause the hitting to almost totally disagree.
Add to those factors that Clint Hurdle is an A+ cheerleader but a D- when he puts on a game uniform.

John Lease

So, I guess that whole breaking the 19 year losing streak thing isn’t happening after all. A 20 year losing streak is pretty breathtaking. Good things don’t always come to those who wait, I guess. But bad management is the ONLY explanation for a 20 year losing streak, or a 19 year one.


The Best Mgmt Team in Baseball hasn’t put any of those losing teams on the field. The last 4 yrs never happened.

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