Saul Covers the Bases: Pirates this season are like a pendulum


The Bucs, who now sit at 35-37, couldn’t find an ounce of consistency if someone left it on the mound at PNC Park.

Think I’m kidding? Check out their game results since the beginning of June: Win, loss, win, win, loss, win, win, loss, loss, win, loss, win, win, win, win, loss, loss, loss, loss.

If the team hopes to make a playoff run, though, the players had better start looking for a little consistency.

After their first successful home stand of the season, it was clear that they needed to take care of business over this road stretch. Things looked good in the early-going, as they swept the lowly Astros. It was a sign that they were good enough to take care of business against a team that wasn’t playing good baseball.

Unfortunately, the Pirates couldn’t manage to take a single game from the AL Central leading Indians. If there were two things we learned about Pittsburgh in the series, it’s this: They can’t play against the American League, and their offense needs some serious work.

With the loss, the Pirates had dropped 13 straight interleague road games. After Monday’s defeat at the hands of Baltimore, it’s now 14.

The final loss of the Cleveland series that topped off the Indians sweep took 11 innings to complete. After pitching eight consecutive scoreless innings from the second to 10th innings, the bullpen cracked under the pressure of the Bucs’ quiet bats.

When it was all said and done, Pittsburgh stranded 14 runners, half of whom were left in scoring position. The team went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position, with that one hit being a first-inning RBI single by Neil Walker.

"We’ve got to continue to keep doing what we’ve been doing," Andrew McCutchen said to "There is nothing wrong. We had some chances and just weren’t able to get the big hit. We just weren’t able to get it.”

Whether McCutchen wants to admit that there is something wrong or not is beside the point, because there is. The Pirates rank 27th in batting average, 25th in RBIs, 23rd in home runs and 23rd in on base percentage.

Additionally, they have the third most strikeouts this season and have left the fourth most players on base, averaging 6.58 runners stranded per game.

If those aren’t problems, then I don’t know what would qualify. If the Pirates are serious about making a playoff run, now sitting only 4.5 games back from the NL Central lead, the bats are going to need to wake up. Fast.

The silver lining in this mess? The pitching.

What baseball history has shown is that the bats are bound to go hot and cold, the important thing is when they go hot. Pitching, on the other hand, is generally consistent.

The Bucs’ pitching is the other side of a pendulum that swings between good and bad. The one stat they can hold onto is that they’re ninth in ERA compared to all other teams. If their bats continue to slump, the pitching will need to hold everything together in order for the Pirates to keep finding wins.

After dropping game one of the Orioles series last night, the Bucs need to regroup immediately and start looking ahead. The fact is that after all their ups and downs so far this season; they’re still in the thick of the race. At 4.5 games back, they could make a run to the front of the pack, and it could start tomorrow.

Northside Chronicle Town Hall Subscription