Diary of a long-suffering Pirates Fan: Forget the hitting coach; fire the traveling secretary!

Pirates' performance on Getaway Days feels like they're auditioning for a Southwest Airlines Commercial: "Wanna Get Away?"
In this photo illustration, the silhouette of an Airbus A380...
In this photo illustration, the silhouette of an Airbus A380... / SOPA Images/GettyImages

If you want to make the playoffs, you have to have a couple of prolonged winning streaks during the course of the season. If you want to have a couple of prolonged winning streaks during the course of the season, you have to sweep a few teams along the way. If you want to have a few sweeps during the course of the season, you not only have to win the first two games of the series, but also the third and final game of the series.

If you consistently don't win the final games of a series, then you have a team that will finish around .500, like the Pirates are doing in 2024. The Pirates, it seems, haven't gotten the memo about winning those third and final games.

I don't know what is happening on get-away days or the third or fourth games of a home series, but for some reason, these games bring out the worst in the Pirates. Since the opening four-game sweep of the Miami Marlins, the Pirates have had no other sweeps this season. Worse, they keep losing the final games of series.

The season started out well enough with the aforementioned sweep in Miami. It was followed by the Pirates winning the third and deciding games in the next two series, first at Washington and then at home against Baltimore, the latter coming with a thrilling walk-off victory.

But since then, the Pirates have gone 3-13 in the final game of a series. On get-away days (days on which the Pirates have to board an airplane immediately after the game) the Pirates are 2-8.

Some of the most painful and most lopsided losses for the Pirates have come on these last games of a series games.

Of the 13 losses in those series-ending games, the Pirates have blown leads in seven of them. In the other six games, they have lost by a cumulative score of 48-12. Just when you think the Pirates might be good or might be turning a corner, along comes the third game of a series. And instead of building momentum and/or extending winning streaks, the Pirates, instead, lay eggs.

It all started with the first home getaway game against the Detroit Tigers in early April. The Pirates had won three games in a row and were leading the Detroit Tigers in the final game of a two-game series. David Bednar was called upon to protect a 3-1 lead in the ninth. He was unable to do so. He gave up walks and hits and hit batters, and by the time Shelton came to the mound to take him out, the Tigers had taken a 5-3 lead. The fans booed Bednar for the poor performance and booed Shelton for keeping him in for too long.

And it has been mostly down hill from there on these get-away days.

Along the way, there have been excruciatingly painful losses to the Giants, Brewers, Cubs, Angels, and Blue Jays. No sense in reliving those nightmares here. Suffice it to say, had the Pirates been able to preserve leads in those games, they might be over .500 and in a playoff position. But they didn't. And so here they stand: three games under .500 and currently out of a Wild Card spot.

As indicated above, I'm not sure what happens on get-away days that bring out the worst in the Pirates. Perhaps it's just a coincidence that these painful losses come in the final games of series. Perhaps some overconfidence creeps in? Perhaps a letdown after victories the night before. Perhaps there is some internal pressure of some sort associated with having to pack bags and catch an airplane. Perhaps it's an unconscious mindset that this is the Pirates, and this is just what typically happens to the Pirates. They lose.

Whatever it is that is happening, I hope someone identifies it and corrects it.

There is still plenty of baseball to be played. With the Pirates' excellent starting rotation, there should still be opportunities to collect sweeps and prolonged winning streaks before the season ends.

But to do so, they must figure out how to show up for a full series and stop playing them as if they truly "wanna get away."