After losing to the Milwaukee Brewers tonight, the Pirates have a .500 record since July 1. But that all but tells the story about how this team has played the past two months. It hasn’t been balanced like a .500 record would suggest. It has been exactly what you would expect out of a potential playoff season from the Pittsburgh Pirates. It has been an absolute roller coaster ride. Unfortunately, they’re currently going downhill with their hand in the air while screaming uncontrollably.
This loss was pretty inexcusable. The Pirates managed six runs out of their offense and when that happens, they just can’t piss it away and they did tonight. Pedro Alvarez went 4-for-4 with a walk and a home run. He was a triple short of the cycle. Neil Walker had a three run home run when the Brewers were up 5-1 to get the Pirates back into the game.
The issue tonight was the pitching. Pitching has been and will be the key to the Pirates success. Pitching performances like tonight can not happen and they’ve happened way too often for Jeff Locke lately. Locke once again didn’t get out of the fifth inning while giving up five runs on eight hits. To be fair, the defense behind him was rather pathetic but excuse time is over. The bullpen didn’t do it’s part either. Twice the Pirates tied this game late and twice the bullpen blew it, Justin Wilson in the seventh inning and Bryan Morris in the eighth.
Player of the Game: Aramis Ramirez
Tonight was a night for third baseman. Like Alvarez, Ramirez also had a four hit night. Someone call the Elias Sports Bureau and figure out the last time that happened. The difference between the two is that Ramirez also drove in four runs. Even on the one out he made, which was a double play in the first inning, a run came in to score. Four of the five runs that were charged to Locke in his short outing were the result of Ramirez at bats.
Play of the Game: Clint Hurdle
As the Pirates are playing .500 ball over the past two months, it is obvious that the first three months of the season were infinitely more successful. For me, the biggest difference between the first three months and the last two months is that Hurdle has been much more noticeable. Now don’t get me wrong, Hurdle is the best manager that the Pirates have had in a long time. But I like him a whole lot more when his work comes behind the scenes. His bullpen management since Jason Grilli got hurt has been terrifying. Tonight was another example. Morris has no business pitching in the eighth inning. There are three other guys in that bullpen at least that should be in that role over Morris and he proved it again tonight.
Up Next: Milwaukee Brewers, Wednesday, 7:05pm
The Pirates have a hill to climb now. Losing a series to a team 20 games back is inexcusable in a tight pennant race. The next two games need to be wins. The good news is that Charlie Morton is pitching on Wednesday coming off his best start of the season. In fact, the entire month of August has been pretty good to him.