It Counts as One Loss

Ok, so that sucked. 14-1 isn’t ever going to look good.

Losing by two touchdowns to your biggest rival would stink in any sport, no matter where you are in your development. It happens, especially in that ballpark, but this wasn’t just a bad outing no this one showed some things that denying won’t fix.

The recipe for the Pirates to make everything work is one of very precise measurement. One ounce too much of bad starting pitching and the soufflé will fall. Two or three too many bad at bats and an inning turns over too quick sending that shell shocked starter right back out.

I’d love to say this was a bunch of bad luck, because there legitimately were just an incredible amount of bloops and seeing eye ground balls all night, but when the offense only goes out there and puts 5 hits and 1 walk together as an offensive ‘attack’, well it’s hard to say luck had much to do with it. Maybe luck made it worse than 6-1, that’s about as far as I can go.

Truth is, from the moment Ke’Bryan Hayes went down with a wrist injury the team just deflated. It’s been visible, and just about undeniable.

Phil Evans, Bryan Reynolds, Jacob Stallings and Colin Moran, Buccos fans, meet the four individuals on the ball club who haven’t looked like Hayes being hurt meant we’re on break.

In fact in last night’s contest the most shocking stat might be that the Pirates were only tagged with one error.

It’s an all around collapse of an entire team philosophy at the plate, and if it’s a leadership issue, at least one of two things must be true. One, they never had a leader or two, their leader is a 24 year old who is on IL.

Either of those would be a bad sign honestly.

I’m being dramatic of course, about every aspect of this one loss if I’m being straight with you. But I can’t deny that from the moment Hayes went down the team has looked different in every aspect of play. Defensively, the approach at the plate, even on the mound.

I hate to make too much of it, after all we spent the entire off season telling each other they’d stink to different degrees, so this shouldn’t exactly shock us.

Even Trevor Cahill’s performance was expected. I just said on my podcast last week that Cahill will either get crushed, strike everyone out or somehow muddle through, but one thing he won’t do is change the pitches he throws to get to the outcome. In other words, he’ll not change what he throws or how he throws it, the difference will be the type of swings that get put on his stuff.

That’s very true. Craig Toth likes to refer to him as a right handed Derek Holland and while that might give you night sweats to think about he’s dead on. Every once in a while that’s going to look good, just not often enough for you to ever call him good.

The defense has been another story because the issues have largely come from a position most of us considered to be completely covered, second base. The error isn’t always the story. Sometimes it’s the plays that don’t get called. For instance in the early going Monday when Phil Evans threw to second base trying to start a double play and the Pirates ended up getting nobody out.

He received the ball and delivered a strike to Frazier, so no error. But Evans could have been a bit quicker to release the ball and Frazier could have realized the play was slow developing and stretched toward Phil to ensure they got the lead runner. Instead he stayed in double play receiving position and they got nothing.

Small play, but it’s part of what helps Frazier keep his numbers looking clean most of the time while still not impressing most who watch him everyday with the glove. Again, that’s not all on him and if Hayes is there that ball is on him like white on rice. But this isn’t a club that can afford to give plays away.

I’m not here to tell you this is all about effort or execution.

Most nights the reality is this team doesn’t have enough to win. We said it before the season, and just because they’re actually playing doesn’t mean that has changed. They are however good enough that games getting this out of control shouldn’t be a thing, at least not a common occurrence.

Clearly once does not make a common occurrence but it sure was three games worth of bad piled into one wasn’t it?

Sometimes games like that break out and there is a fight at the bat rack, hell even the Pirates of last season posted 10 once, but it’s safe to say they need to tighten some approaches up and get back to the patient at bats they were trying to take in the opener.

Kyle Hendricks hasn’t been the only pitcher they’ve faced who was missing the zone, but he’s the only one they’ve made pay.

The patient, opposite field approach that we watched all Spring and in the first game of the season just largely disappeared. With four players trying to keep the ship moving forward there are plenty of opportunities for pitching to tiptoe through the minefield and get their outs around those few.

Look, I’m not big on believing a coach can yell his guys into staying on script much less being good, but at the very least I’d like to see them look like they have some interest in trying to get back to what worked. And if anyone on this club wants to call themselves part of the solution, maybe start solving some things.

Published by Gary Morgan

Former contributor for Inside the Pirates an SI Team Channel

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