It’s Gut Check Time For The Pittsburgh Pirates

Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

The Pittsburgh Pirates have lost six consecutive games and now find themselves three and a half games behind the St. Louis Cardinals for the second National League Wild Card spot. As a result, it is gut check time for the Pirates.

After the Pittsburgh Pirates swept a four game series from the Milwaukee Brewers last weekend, they appeared to be flying high. Following this series the Pirates found themselves with a 67-61 record. This record put them just one game behind the St. Louis Cardinals for the second National League Wild Card spot.

Since this sweep of the Brewers though, the Pittsburgh Pirates are winless. The Bucs followed that series up by going to Wrigley Field and being swept by the Chicago Cubs. Then the Pirates returned home to play the Brewers again, but were swept.

As loser of six consecutive games, the Pirates now find themselves with a record of just 67-67. Despite being just a .500 team at the moment, the Pirates are still just three and a half games behind the Cardinals. And the Pirates begin a three game series with the Cardinals this afternoon.

The Pittsburgh Pirates also have a game in and on the St. Louis Cardinals. Furthermore, the Bucs and Red Birds still have six meetings left between themselves. So the Pirates still have every opportunity to seize a postseason berth.

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The Pirates and Cardinals have played 13 times this season. Through their first 13 meets with the Cardinals this season the Pirates are 8-5. Due to this, there is reason for optimism heading into this series. However, the Pirates must play much better than they have the previous week.

In this series the Pittsburgh Pirates do not need to do much. They just simply need to play to their capabilities. They have shown flashes this season of being a very good team, now they need to put it together and do it for the next four weeks. And that starts against the St. Louis Cardinals tonight.

The way the Pirates have played the past week is totally and completely unacceptable. Especially this past weekend against the Brewers. Against the Brew Crew the Bucs were outscored 18-4, and shut out twice. The Brewers, not the Pirates, looked like the team competing for a postseason berth over the weekend. While the Pirates, not the Brewers, looked like the team that is 20 games under .500 and ready to get their season over with.

The Pirates’ weekend was filled with poor pitching, bad base running, errors, and a lack of offense. None of these are traits of a team battling for their postseason life. And this can not be repeated moving forward.

This string of poor play by the Pirates all started with a heartbreaking loss to the Cubs last Monday. Despite leading the Cubs 6-3 after seven innings, 6-5 entering the ninth, and 7-6 entering the bottom of the 13th inning the Pirates were still unable to win. While, yes, this is a crushing loss, it is one a team needs to bounce back from.

In their five losses since this game the Pirates have been shut out twice and had they brought the tying run at the plate in the ninth inning in three of them. So the Pirates have both played poorly and experienced tough losses. That is a rare combination.

Now the Pirates need to take a stand, though. This is gut check time for the Pittsburgh Pirates. If Clint Hurdle and his troops are going to participate in the postseason this fall they need to look themselves in the mirror and start to play better. If the Pirates continue to play the way they have the past week not only will they not make the postseason, but they could very easily have their first losing season since 2012.

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The Pittsburgh Pirates are more talented than a .500 team. Despite this, the Pirates currently find themselves with a 67-67 record. This is largely due to incredible inconsistency from the Pirates this season. The Bucs have six winning streaks of at least four games this season and are currently riding their seventh losing streak of at least four games. Impressively, if that’s the right word here, the Pirates are the only team in Major League Baseball with at least six four game winning streaks and six four game losing streaks.

It is time for the Pirates to put their inconsistent play behind them. If the Pirates want to earn a fourth consecutive postseason berth they need to play solid, fundamental, and consistent baseball the next four weeks. It is gut check time for the Pittsburgh Pirates.