You only have to look back to July 28 when, after sweeping the Houston Astros, the Pittsburgh Pirates sat a season-high 16 games over .500 and just two games behind the National League Central-leading Cincinnati Reds.
After Wednesday night’s loss to the Milwaukee Brewers, the Pirates are back to .500 for the first time since June 2 and now are 4.5 games back in the wild card race, trailing four teams.
I think it’s fair to wave the white flag now and tap out, which is what the Pirates offense has done as of late.
The Bucs picked another bad time to show their inability to hit the baseball, and that inability has all but stuck the fork in their playoff chances. They are likely headed to a 20th consecutive losing season.
The collapse of this team is inexcusable and so is the way the Pirates offense has faded. Fighting for their playoff lives, this Pirates team has scored a total of four runs in the past 27 innings.
Even more disturbing is the fact that after their three-run third inning Tuesday morning against the Chicago Cubs, this offense was shut out for 23 consecutive innings before Andrew McCutchen’s rather meaningless ninth-inning home run Wednesday night.
In the past three games, the Bucs have gone 14-for-94 (.148) with runners in scoring position. I’ve outlined the struggles of the Pirates hitters to come through in those situations. Good teams hit with men on base and that is something this team doesn’t do.
When the Pirates aren’t swinging the bats well, which these days is very often, this is an easy team to beat. The Bucs have gone only 15-31 since the trade deadline, a period in which they have scored five or more runs only 14 times. Even more disturbing is the fact that they lost seven of those 14 games.
This team had their destiny in their hands and did nothing about it.
There struggles increased as the pressure mounted and much of it has to do with getting hits when they matter, or even simply putting the bat on the ball.
In August, this Pirates team went only 55-for-243 (.226) with RISP and struck out 246 times in the month (8.78 per game), which has been a disturbing trend for this team. Things haven’t gotten much better during the month of September when the Bucs have gone 4-13. They have gone 32-for-158 (.202) with RISP and have struck out 153 times (9.0 per game).
Add that up and the Pirates have hit only .216 (87-for-401) with RISP since the trade deadline and have struck out a whopping 399 times in 45 games.
That’s simply not acceptable.
Everyone wants to talk blame these days and point fingers at why this team suddenly became so bad. Yet while it is acceptable to point the finger at the pitching and manager Clint Hurdle, look no further than the failures of the Pirates’ offense if you are searching for answers.