Big Lead Sports Bar

7/11/2010

A Wrapup of the Pirates' First Half of 2010


The PITTSBURGH PIRATES' struggles continued on Sunday, as Corey Hart's two-run walk-off home run gave the Milwaukee Brewers a 6-5 win and a series sweep. The Brew Crew has now won eight of 11 this season against the Pirates, taking all three games by one run each in this series. Some thoughts on the game and the season to this point after the jump.

The good news for the Pirates on Sunday: home runs by Lastings Milledge and Pedro Alvarez (the third of the season for both players), three hits from Ronny Cedeno, and two RBI from Andrew McCutchen. The bad news: the 3-4-5 hitters went 1-for-12, Brad Lincoln gave up two home runs, and Octavio Dotel blew his second save of the weekend in getting the loss. 

The Pirates limp into the All-Star break at 30-58, on pace for a 106-loss season. They've gone 30 games and 1,004 at-bats since their last home run with a man on base. And to top it off, they've lost six in a row since taking a series against Philadelphia last weekend. One step forwards, two steps backwards.

The Bucs have four days off, picking things up on Friday night with a three-game set against the Houston Astros.

Here we sit on July 12, 88 down, 74 to go. It's been a long season already for the Buccos, and we're only in July. It's officially reflection time. Here are a few randomly-listed memories, both good and bad, from the first half of 2010:

-Brewers 20, Pirates 0
-The Pierogi debacle 
-A 12-game losing streak
-The secret contract extensions of Neal Huntington and John Russell
-The strange domination of the Chicago Cubs
-Roy Oswalt one-hitting the Bucs in Houston
-Ryan Doumit's horrendous defense, throwing out 10% of opposing base-stealers
-The struggles of Ross Ohlendorf (1-7, 4.22 ERA) and Zach Duke (3-8, 5.49)
-The bizarre, late-night recall of Pedro Alvarez
-Six Pirate errors in Alvarez's debut game against the White Sox
-The demotion of Charlie Morton's Great Stuff (1-9, 9.35)
-The entire opening day infield (Jeff Clement, Aki Iwamura, Ronny Cedeno and Andy LaRoche) losing their jobs
-Jason Jaramillo's dropped pop fly and Ross Ohlendorf's botched pickoff throws leading to a loss at Oakland
-An All-Star appearance for Evan Meek (4-3, 1.11)
-An All-Star-worthy campaign from Andrew McCutchen (.287/.363/.435, 93 hits)
-Until the latest Milwaukee series, a dominant Pirate bullpen
-A solid season so far from Neil Walker, especially in light of the team's troubles at that position
-The disaster that was the Dana Eveland Era
-Chris Jakubauskas getting hit in the face by a Lance Berkman line drive
-The lack of power (3 HR) and poor baserunning from Lastings Milledge
-Team rankings of 30th in batting average, RBI, and hits, and 27th in HR
-Team pitching rankings of 29th in ERA and 28th in strikeouts
-Their participation in the debut of Stephen Strasburg - a 14-K performance
-Vladimir Guerrero's walk-off single wrapping up a Rangers interleague sweep of the Pirates
-The 1960 Pirates reunion at PNC Park
-The draft, featuring yet-to-be-signed pitchers Jameson Taillon and Stetson Allie
-Carlos Silva beating the Pirates with a stomach flu
-Ronny Cedeno's fake mustache
-Ryan Doumit's walk-off home run against Atlanta
-The deleted Piratesreport.com Penguin-bashing story
-The Pirates beating Philadelphia ace Roy Halladay 2-1 in May
-The upcoming movie on Rinku and Dinesh
-Paul Maholm apologizing for a bad outing on Twitter
-The love of Regis Philbin
-A 13-run inning by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 15-6 win over the Pirates
-An 11-5 opening-day win over the LA Dodgers
-The Pirates on pace for a final record of 55-107

So on we march towards the second half, with the days until Steeler training camp tick, tick, ticking closer and closer. After the break, the Pirates start with a 10-game homestand against Houston, Milwaukee, and San Diego before departing for a Colorado/St. Louis road trip to close the month.

Early August brings the Cincinnati Reds to town for some divisional drama, followed by a four-game set against the Rockies at PNC, giving Pittsburgh fans a chance a potential close-up of Ubaldo Jiminez. Road trips through NL West-leading San Diego and Houston come next, and then the NL East comes to Pittsburgh, as Florida and the NY Mets kick off another 10-game homestand that concludes with three games against St. Louis. August concludes with more road games at the Brewers and Cubs. Can't see enough of them.

September leads off with Washington coming to town for three games, as the Pirates ticket-selling department keeps their fingers crossed that Stephen Strasburg will be starting one of those contests. Atlanta then returns to Pittsburgh for three games on September 6. The Pirates take to the road for three at the Reds and four at the Mets, wrapping up their 2010 home slate with a nine-game slate against Arizona, St. Louis and Houston, which concludes on September 26. Road trips to St. Louis and Florida will finalize the 2010 season, unless the Pirates have postseason aspirations. That was a joke, by the way.

So what can we conclude from the three paragraphs above? There will be a few interesting opponents coming through Pittsburgh, some lengthy homestands and road trips, and lots and lots of divisional games against teams I'm already tired of seeing. I can't possibly imagine the PNC Park stands for Pirates-Astros at 1:35 on September 26.

But beyond the schedule, there are a few interesting stories yet to be told. Will the Pirates make more deadline deals? Will one, both, or neither of their top two draft picks sign? Will the core of Alvarez, McCutchen, Walker, Lincoln, and Tabata begin to come together? Can the starting rotation improve? Will the Pirates challenge for the #1 pick in the 2011 draft?

OK, so we have a few storylines. But unless any of them include winning, it's going to be mighty hard for this team to nab headlines away from the Steelers once August rolls around. This year was about development, not playoff contention, but the losing has clearly taken its toll on a fan base that's been through a lot. Add in some of the predictable front-office gaffes and a few assorted embarrassing moments, and this season looks like many of the 17 that have preceded it. Can it have a different ending? That's up to the 25 men who will don Pirate uniforms 74 times over the next three-plus months.

14 comments:

Scott said...

Judging the news stories in a positive-negative record, I saw 12-23 for a .343 'win' percentage.

The on-field win percentage a .340 is slightly 'worse' than their off-field 'win' percentage. Not sure I would agree with it, but it shows that the PBC off-field performance by management is just as crappy as the on-field product. Best management team in baseball - absolutely...

Steve said...

I always thought Pittsburgh Brewing Company (PBC) was just as awful on field as off.

JW said...

If the bullpen can't keep things together -- and really they were the only true bright spot for awhile -- then this could be a truly, historically ugly 2nd half of the season.

Nate said...

I'd argue that the first of those two blown saves was blown by Ryan Doumit, not Octavio Dotel. Hard to lock down the save when your catcher allows two passed balls and launches one into center field. I hate Ryan Doumit so much.

Koz said...

How this for perspective? The Pirates could come back from the all-star break and tear off a 60 game winning streak and they'd still miss the playoffs.

Steve said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve said...

If anyone could accomplish something so amazingly disappointing it would be the Pirates.

JW said...

But at least they'd be above .500. Isn't that what it's all about?

BurressWithButterflyWings said...

Did anybody on here know Jose Lind won a Grammy in 2009?

I smell a future giveaway..... "Pantless Jose Lind Grammy Statue"

winerunr said...

It has always amazed me how poorly a team suddenly plays when they hop onto a plane and have to play on the road. Is it something in the water, the hotel, or some voodoo curse in the visitors locker room? They take three out of four from Philly then procede to lose six in a row away from PNC to teams who are going nowhere as well.

Nate said...

"If anyone could accomplish something so amazingly disappointing it would be the Pirates."

For it to be disappointing, wouldn't you have had to expect them to be better this year? This is about what I expected from this team in 2010.

BURGH08 said...

"For it to be disappointing, wouldn't you have had to expect them to be better this year? This is about what I expected from this team in 2010."

Not entirely. You can have low expectations and still be disappointed in the results.

I just don't want to hear their 'improved record down the stretch' when there little to play for.

HomeRunFromBehindTheMeatballs said...

Hey, don't look so down bucco fans! Late breaking news is that Brian Bixler is back in the pirates organization. Whew... the season is saved!

Dee said...

Is there anyway we can just forfeit the rest of the season and post the "L's" now?
This is ridiculous via Bob Nutting & crew.