The Pittsburgh Pirates lost for the seventh time in their last eight games on Thursday night when they lost to the New York Mets by a score of 6-4.
The Pittsburgh Pirates struggles in the month of June continue. The Pittsburgh Pirates lost to the New York Mets by a score of 6-4 on Thursday night. As a result, the Pirates are now just 4-11 so far in June.
The Pittsburgh Pirates chances of making the postseason for a fourth consecutive season are beginning to look a little bleak. The Pirates now find themselves a season high 12 games behind the Chicago Cubs for first place in the National League Central, as well as a season high three and a half games out of the second National League Wild Card spot. Anyway, here are the Pittsburgh Pirates three stars and stiffs from their loss on Thursday night.
Second baseman Josh Harrison – With John Jaso getting the night off from starting duty, Josh Harrison hit lead off for the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday night. Josh Harrison would finish the game 2-for-4 at the plate, and he also picked up his 31st RBI of the season. As a result of his two hit performance on Thursday night, Josh Harrison is now hitting .307 on the season.
Josh Harrison also turned in some strong defense at second base on Thursday night. In the top of the second inning, Michael Conforto absolutely tattooed a ball to the right side of the infield that looked like would end up an easy base hit. However, Josh Harrison was able to cover a lot of ground to his left to field the ball and throw Conforto out at first base for the final out of the inning.
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Relief pitcher A.J. Schugel – The surprising emergence of A.J. Schugel in the Pittsburgh Pirates bullpen continued on Thursday night. Schugel took over for Juan Nicasio with just one out in the bottom of the fifth inning, and proceeded to throw 2 2/3 scoreless innings of relief. In those 2 2/3 innings pitched Schugel allowed just two hits, zero walks, and he struck out one batter.
Even though many Pittsburgh Pirates fans hate A.J. Schugel, still trying to figure out why, he has done a solid job in middle relief for the Pirates this season. After Thursday night’s outing A.J. Schugel is averaging 8.62 K/9, 2.01 BB/9, 0.57 HR/9, and has a 1.05 WHIP in 31 1/3 inning pitched. In his 31 1/3 innings pitched Schugel has posted a 3.73 ERA, 2.82 FIP, a 3.71 xFIP, and his 0.4 WAR is tied with Mark Melancon for the best of any Pirate reliever.
Center fielder Andrew McCutchen – Maybe just maybe Thursday night was the beginning of Andrew McCutchen righting the ship. The Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder went 3-for-4 at the plate on Thursday night including a double and a home run. This was McCutchen’s first two hit game of the month, and snapped an 0-for-18 stretch.
Both the double and the home run were, obviously, great signs from McCutchen. In both at bats he showed his vintage short, quick swing resulting in him blistering a ball to left field. He also was able to get a lot more extension on both of this swings than he had been of late.
Pirate fans can only hope that Thursday night’s performance will get McCutchen going, as the struggling Pittsburgh Pirates could use it desperately. Andrew McCutchen heating up at the plate and starting to look like, well, Andrew McCutchen once again could do wonders for this team.
Starting pitcher Juan Nicasio – Juan Nicasio turned in yet another abysmal start on Thursday night. Nicasio lasted just 4 1/3 innings on Thursday night and allowed six runs on seven hits, three home runs, two walks, and five strike outs. On the season Nicasio now has a 5.83 ERA, 4.92 FIP, and a 4.35 xFIP.
After an incredible Spring Training and a strong April, in the last month and a half Juan Nicasio is proving why he has never been a successful Major League starting pitcher before. Nicasio only has two Major League quality pitches, and you can not get by as a starting pitcher this way.
While I still believe Nicasio could be a strong reliever for the Pittsburgh Pirates, much like Jeff Locke, his days as a starting pitcher for the Pirates need to be numbered. The Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitching needs fixed and now. It is time that either Chad Kuhl or Tyler Glasnow is called up to replace Juan Nicasio in the Pirate rotation.
Catcher Erik Kratz – In the world of least surprising news ever, Erik Kratz still sucks. Kratz once again got the start behind the plate for the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday night and, once again, was horrible. Erik Kratz went 0-for-4 at the plate on Thursday night, with his 19th strike out in 39 at bats this season, and this was just the beginning of his problems.
After Jordy Mercer singled with one out in the top of the 5th inning, Erik Kratz followed up with a 6-4-3 double play. Then in the bottom of the sixth inning, Kratz was charged with a passed ball. Then to cap it all off Erik Kratz stepped to the plate in the top of the ninth inning with two outs, the Pirates trailing 6-4, Matt Joyce on third base, and Kratz flew out to right field to end the game.
Well, buckle up, the Pittsburgh Pirates are currently playing their worst baseball since probably September 2012 and now head to Wrigley Field this weekend to play the best team in baseball the Chicago Cubs. This weekend could be ugly. Like really, really ugly.
Also, this weekend could very easily, if not likely, push the 33-33 Pittsburgh Pirates under .500. Right now the Pittsburgh Pirates are a total and complete mess. And, unfortunately, due to the remaining June schedule, injuries, and bad pitching staff there is not end in sight. Sigh.