There Was No Doubt About It

A Pittsburgh Pirates Blog

Cardinals Sweep Pirates

06.13.16 Posted by

Travel, softball, and other related things prevented me from writing normal recaps and previews of this series, and it’s just as well, because they probably would’ve been overwrought and laden with curses. The Pirates lost all three games to the Cardinals by a combined 15 runs. That’s really, really bad. Bad as a harbinger of their real skill level, and bad for the Wild Card race, specifically.

It was bad for a number of individual players, too: Francisco Cervelli, we learned, is out for over a month. Gerrit Cole left a game and we’re still waiting to hear the extent of his injury (a 15-day DL stint seems more likely than not based on the delays alone). And the players who performed badly were, by and large, the players whose skill level is probably subject to the highest variance, which is a pretty bad sign.

The biggest deficit of the three losses (six runs) somehow came in the game which wen into extra innings. The “somehow” there is Juan Nicasio, who was sorta-kinda working out of the bullpen. Naturally, the extra-inning game was the one where Cole left after two innings, though hats off to A.J. Schugel for throwing four perfect innings in relief against one of the league’s highest-scoring lineups. That’s a really exceptional outing, and yeah, small sample sizes and all that, but it makes you wonder if he could end up a key part of this bullpen by the end of the year.

That, however, was just about the only bright spot of the series. In the second game, Francisco Liriano put up better results than he has in weeks, but still didn’t look great beyond the basic box score. Still, any improvement is welcome at this point. Jon Niese got rocked in the final game, allowing eight runs in five innings. I’m no more ready to say this makes him bad than the previous handful of starts made him good, but it’s not a nice data point.

The Pirates managed 20 hits in the series, even though one of those games went into the 12th, which simply isn’t good enough even when the pitching staff is decent, which it surely wasn’t.

The Bucs have now lost five in a row. They’re just one game over .500, and their run differential is just +7. So far this year they’ve pretty much either been good or bad for a number of games in a row, oscillating back and forth between the two, and to this point, at the end (I hope) of this downswing, it has them a thoroughly average team. I think they’re probably better than this, but it’s a little harder to say that with confidence, and even if it’s true, it’s not clear how much better. Especially if Cole misses much time.

The Pirates get a much-needed day off today, and then The Gauntlet starts right back up, with six road games and another daunting Cubs series on the horizon.

Filed under: game recaps