The Pittsburgh Pirates are in last place in the National League Central. While the team continues to look at third strikes, play horrid defense and strand runners, they won the series against the Toronto Blue Jays.
It won’t be so easy against the San Francisco Giants.
Just when the Pirates looked like they were going to put a winning streak together, Edinson Volquez lost control, Jordy Mercer lost the handle, a strike was called a ball. Another pitch was necessary and it turned into a grand slam. Yeh, it’s becoming really complicated for the darlings of 2013. The Pirates are just not playing good team baseball. Two ugly wins on Friday and Saturday each showcased bad defense, stranded runners and then a rousing comeback fueled by what has been missing in the 2014 season for the Bucs–timely hits. It was easy to ignore the sins, because the result was so damn enjoyable to watch.
Now the powerful San Francisco Giants roll into PNC Park with a five game winning streak. The Bucs desperately need pitching help and turn to Jeff Locke. The southpaw hasn’t pitched well since being named to the 2013 All-Star Game. Just as unfortunate, the last time a Pirates starter got a victory was on April 17.
Starting pitching has been so bad that the starters can’t get out of the sixth inning and for some reason the Buccos sent their best starter of late… Brandon Cumpton, back to the minors leagues. Yeh, the Bucs don’t need a fifth starter until the end of the month, but why does the guy go that’s pitching well for a last place team? So…the Bucs turn to Locke, whose ERA is over 5 at Triple A, to shut down a Giants team that is second in Major League Baseball in home runs and is riding into town after a sweep of the Atlanta Braves.
Well, maybe not. The Giants will also be looking at sending a spot starter to the mound. The Pirates are still searching for their offensive stroke and while the club piled up hits on Friday and Saturday, the bats were pitiful against a Toronto starter fighting for his job.
Perhaps seeing their name in the cellar of the National League Central will send a jolt into the Bucs clubhouse. It’s hard to imagine a tougher test than a team that has already racked up 20 wins this season. But San Francisco has weaknesses, and it’s the type of challenge that will make the Bucs focus, force Locke to fill up the zone and should focus a defense that has kicked and thrown the ball all over the diamond.