Another Pirates road trip is in the books. This week, the Bucs had seven games against National League Central division opponents, first with a voyage to Milwaukee for four games with the Brewers then to St. Louis for three more with the Cardinals.
The fun continued the next evening. The Pirates scored six runs in the first inning and never looked back, winning 7-3 and moving to within four games of first in the Central.
For a while, it looked like Wednesday would bring another Bucco victory. It was not to be. A combination of Clint Hurdle’s awful bullpen management, Jerry Layne’s horrendous strike zone and Orlando Arcia’s great defense brought Millawkue back from a 3-1 seventh inning deficit, and the crew pulled out a 4-3 win.
Thursday was another game that the Pirates could have won, but let slip through the cracks. Again, the game was lost in the late innings. Hurdle left Ivan Nova in one inning too long in the seventh, and in the eighth, third base coach Joey Cora sent Adam Frazier home with two outs, which proved costly, as Frazier was gunned down to end the frame and virtually any remaining chance the Bucs had left. Pittsburgh ended up losing 4-2, leaving Wisconsin with an unsatisfying series split.
Next on the horizon was a trip to St. Louis. Just as it had in Millawkue, the series got off on the right foot. It looked as it Friday would be a lot like Wednesday and Thursday. The Pirates trailed 3-2 after seven frames, but this time, they would not let it slip. A David Freese single tied it in the eighth, and a John Jaso solo shot won it in the ninth, and the Bucs pulled out a gutty 4-3 win.
Saturday was even better. Cole once again dominated, and the Bucs cruised to a 7-3 W and entered play Sunday night with a chance to sweep the Cardinals in St. Louis for the first time since 1997. Unfortunately, it was not to be. The ‘pen imploded once again, and the Pirates lost 8-4.
We saw a lot of good from the Pirates on this trip, as they went 4-3 against two division opponents on the road. That record could have easily been better, however, and signs of Pittsburgh’s shortcomings were also evident. Here is a breakdown of all the good and bad that went down this past week, using a “report card” format. Let’s get into it.