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 Post subject: Whom to root for - August 18-20, 2014
PostPosted: Mon Aug 18, 2014 2:19 pm 
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As written in the last "Whom to root for" segment," I felt it was necessary for the Pirates to avoid a sweep at the hands of the Nats. However, I was primarily concerned about the Bucs trying to stay close to the Cardinals and to keep the Giants as close as possible. I truly did not envision that the Braves would sweep the A's and the Brewers would sweep the Dodgers. After this weekend's play, earning a post-season bid has become far more difficult.

As of right now, with 38 games left in the schedule, here's how the boys in black-and-gold stack up against the competition:

DIVISIONAL RACE
Brewers: The Pirates have played one less game than the Brewers and are trailing the Brewers by 5 games in the loss column. The Brewers sweep and the Bucs getting swept was a fastball to the spine over the weekend. They have 6 head to head games left. At this juncture, the Bucs cannot "push" in those six games. They have to win the head-to-head battle. Winning 4 of those 6 appears to be a necessity. The Pirates trail the season series to the Brewers 3-10. Thus, the Brewers have clinched the advantage in any tiebreaker.
Cardinals: The Pirates have played one more game than the Cardinals and are trailing the Cardinals by 3 games in the loss column. As feared, the Cardinals took care of business against the Padres and stretched their 1 game lead in the loss column to a 3 game lead. They have 6 head to head games left. Again, the Pirates can't push against the Cardinals. They need to win at least 4 of the final 6. The Pirates trail the season series to the Cardinals 6-7.
Reds: The Pirates and Reds have played the same number of games. The Pirates are ahead of the Reds by 3 in the loss column. The Reds continue to swoon and only gained a game as a result of the Bucs getting swept. With respect to head-to-head, the Pirates could probably afford to split the last 6 games against the Reds. With respect to the final standings and the Reds' current production, the Pirates likely need to win 4 of those 6 games. The Pirates trail the season series to the Reds 4-9. Thus, the Pirates must win the final six games to gain any tiebreak advantage against the Reds.

WILDCARD RACE
Giants: The Pirates have played one game more than the Giants and trail the Giants in the loss column by 2 games. The Giants took 2 of 3 from the Phillies to open up the 2 game lead. They have no more games against one another. The Pirates won the season series 4-2 and hold a tiebreak advantage over the Giants.
Braves: The Pirates have played the same number of games as the Braves and are tied with the Braves in the loss column. What looked to be a "dead" team swept the A's and caught the Pirates in one weekend. They have not played each other this year. They have seven games remaining over the next two months.
Cardinals: The Pirates have played one more game than the Cardinals and are trailing the Cardinals by 3 games in the loss column. As feared, the Cardinals took care of business against the Padres and stretched their 1 game lead in the loss column to a 3 game lead. They have 6 head to head games left. Again, the Pirates can't push against the Cardinals. They need to win at least 4 of the final 6. The Pirates trail the season series to the Cardinals 6-7.
Reds: The Pirates and Reds have played the same number of games. The Pirates are ahead of the Reds by 3 in the loss column. The Reds continue to swoon and only gained a game as a result of the Bucs getting swept. With respect to head-to-head, the Pirates could probably afford to split the last 6 games against the Reds. With respect to the final standings and the Reds' current production, the Pirates likely need to win 4 of those 6 games. The Pirates trail the season series to the Reds 4-9. Thus, the Pirates must win the final six games to gain any tiebreak advantage against the Reds.

UPCOMING THREE DAYS:

Coming off of the heels of their sweep of the Dodgers, the Brewers have off days on both Monday and Thursday. The Brewers start a two game set against the Blue Jays in Milwaukee on Tuesday night. Encarnacion is back for the Blue Jays. Bautista remains in the lineup. The Jays are 4.0 games back in the wild card chase and can't afford to fall back further. We need for the Blue Jays' bats to go off in Miller Park. Big time. A split is necessary but a Blue Jays mini-sweep would be ideal.

The NL Central head-to-head wars start tonight. Cardinals and Reds will face each other in a three game set in St. Louis. The Bucs lead the Reds by 3 in the loss column and trail the Cardinals by 3 in the loss column. The math makes this easy. We have to be pulling for the Reds in games, 1, 2 and 3. We need a Reds' series win and must hope for a sweep. Reds avoid Wainwright . . . and the Cards will face Leake and Cueto. Go Reds.

The Giants get their second Monday in a row off before facing the vaunted . . . . Chicago Cubs. Uuuuugh. At least it is in Wrigley. About the best I can say at this point is that I'm hoping that the Giants are looking past the Cubs to the series over the weekend against the Nationals. Falling 2 games behind the Giants with 38 to play doesn't sound daunting - until you look at the Giants' schedule and the lack of head-to-head games. At this juncture, I like the Pirates' chances of catching the Cardinals and getting past the Braves simply because the Bucs have some control of their destiny. Again, it pains me to write this . . . Go Cubs.

The Braves and Pirates play three games at PNC beginning tonight. No analysis needed. Bucs can't afford to lose the series. Must win the series. Is it too much to ask for a sweep?

Really hard for me to muster much enthusiasm after the weekend's lackluster play. First, Morton lays an egg from the outset on Friday night. Then, on Saturday with a three run lead in the 8th, Watson on the mound and a rested Melancon ready for the 9th, what happens? A lead-off walk. To Michael Taylor. A .143 hitting Michael Taylor. Inexcusable. Opened the door to a big inning.

Couldn't get worse? Oh yes. Yes, it could.

The Nationals decide that they are going to hand the game to the Pirates. They take a zero/zero game and start the 6th with an error. A hit is followed by another Nationals error. Bucs plate 2. And have the bases loaded with no outs. Marte at the plate. On a 1-0 count and simply needing a decent fly ball or a grounder to the middle infield to plate a run, Marte fishes for a high pitch and hits a weak ass bouncer to teh pitcher. Snider follows with an 0-1 Sunday grounder to LaRoche. Davis follows with fly ball to right after likely being the victim of a poor strike two call on a 3-1 pitch. So, instead of putting some big nails in the Nationals' coffin, the Bucs don't do any further damage.

Volquez then issues a two out walk to LaRoche to put Rendon in scoring position and allows for a Desmond single to plate a run.

Not to be outdone by the Nats' comical fielding in the 6th inning, the Pirates decide to hand the game to the Nationals. After Volquez hits Michael Taylor (yes, that same Michael Taylor) with a pitch with no one on and one out, a couple of hits and brain dead throws by Davis and Alvarez gift the lead to the Nationals.

Game over? Deal with the pain? Nah . . . not the 2014 Pirates.

Shades of the 2013 Pirates arrived and saw the Bucs grab the lead thanks to a HBP, wild pitch, a walk and a clutch double by Polanco (not going to mention Gaby's inability to drive the ball to the OF). Whew. Close the game and head to Pittsburgh. Wrong.

That's because Melancon walks Werth with one out. And then gives up back-to-back hits. Only a weird sliding catch on a ball that looked like Marte should have reached far easier prevented the game from going into extra innings.

We know what happens in extra innings. You can't ask Cumpton to throw many scoreless innings. Game over. Put a freaking knitting needle in my eye. I even got a sympathetic text from the Cardinals fan neighbor which read "J---s C----t. I sure hope you didn't subject yourself to that. That would make a baseball fan open a vein."

What was once a pretty narrow margin of error has tightened significantly. Simply put, the team needs to catch fire. Now. Right f'ing now. Not necessarily a Kansas City Royals streak (although I'd take it). But it needs to win the series against the Braves. And then the series against the Brewers. And then the series against the [INSERT WHATEVER TEAM YOU WANT]. The bullpen needs to shake off its slump. The hitting needs to become more timely. Cole needs to return to August 2013 form. Cutch needs to come back.

I know its a game and that teams lose close games. Its the way games were lost that drives me to drink. Frankly . . . it was pathetic.

I'm done. Needed to vent that.

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Reflexively, obsessively and tastelessly submitted,
No. 9
Obsessive proponent of situational bunting and 2 strike hitting approaches, reflexively pro-catchers calling good games and tasteless proponent of the value of a RBI.


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 Post subject: Re: Whom to root for - August 18-20, 2014
PostPosted: Mon Aug 18, 2014 3:01 pm 
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And, of course, I was at two of these heartbreakers, No. 9. This may as well have been my son Jack yesterday:

http://deadspin.com/young-pirates-fan-g ... socialflow


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 Post subject: Re: Whom to root for - August 18-20, 2014
PostPosted: Mon Aug 18, 2014 6:57 pm 
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J_C_Steel wrote:
And, of course, I was at two of these heartbreakers, No. 9. This may as well have been my son Jack yesterday:

http://deadspin.com/young-pirates-fan-g ... socialflow


Baseball is cruel enough to older fans. Poor kid doesn't know the world of pain he's about to face and how he's only scraped the surface of gut-punching losses.

Think of the children! :D

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Rage, rage against the regression of the light.


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