Pirates fans spoke to management through attendance, and management obviously heard, and now Pirates fans have responded, at least for one weekend, by coming out to PNC Park to watch the revamped Buccos battle an old nemesis – the St. Louis Cardinals.

Sadly, the end result of a Pirates/Cardinals matchup was all too familiar – the Cardinals leave town in better shape than they arrived.

Seems like the Pirates just cannot get past certain roadblocks to real success. Has been that way since the team reemerged as a pennant contender in 2013.

Those damn Cardinals.

Jump up and bite the Pirates every time.

Sure, the Cubs and Giants have derailed the Pirates since 2013 as has poor roster management at the executive and baseball levels, and poor performance by players.

But the Cardinals are that recurring illness defiling Pirates baseball – that incurable virus that recedes for a time, but then flares up at the worst moments.

Like Chris Archer’s debut weekend.

A weekend that could have been the start of a new direction for the Pirates – one where they put teams like the Cardinals in their rearview mirror and began setting sights on the Brewers, the Braves, the Dodgers and, dare I say, the Cubs?

Instead, the Cardinals limped into town and threw a bucket of cold water on the Pirates’ fire – a stomach-turning reminder that even with roster upgrades, the Pirates are still probably a couple of players short of being real playoff contenders.

Saturday’s 8-4 loss was disturbing. After fighting back to tie the game in the 4th inning, Hurdle turned to Alex McRae.

Yes, that Alex McRae – the one nobody ever heard of.

McRae’s minor league resume is borderline terrible. In other words, he had no business at all on a Major League roster. He gave up back-to-back doubles to the first two Cardinals’ batters in the fifth, and gave up three runs in 3.1 innings of relief.

McRae leaving the game 3.1 innings too late was the real relief – sort of – because he was followed by another player who should never see the light of day in a big league uniform, Dovydos Neverauskas.

The Pirates were okay giving up on Austin Meadows and Tyler Glasnow to try to improve the Major League roster – a move I applauded – but until the organization can do better than McRae and Neverauskas, they will always fall short.

Just always seems to happen when the Cardinals are in town.

Other MoioMusings:

  • “There’s nothing there to talk about.” So says Mike Tomlin regarding Antonio Brown’s “minor” quad injury that has seen the Steelers’ receiver miss five straight training camp practices. Well, Lord Tomlin, it’s AB, and he was sent from Latrobe to Pittsburgh for evaluation, so there is actually something there to talk about. The vague nature of Tomlin’s AB updates sounds like NHL injury updates. Next thing you know, AB will be missing games with a “minor lower-body injury.”
  • Pitt starting quarterback Kenny Pickett recently vowed that 5-7 will not happen again, at least not this season. 93.7, The Fan’s Paul Zeise is prognosticating an 8 or 9-win season for the 2018 Panthers. While Pitt’s defense, disgraceful in 2017, should be better this season, they are still littered with underclassmen and two-to-three-star recruits who do not confuse anybody with a decent defense. Hopefully Pat Narduzzi and new defensive coordinator, Randy Bates, can coach up the talent on Pitt’s roster and fix a badly broken defense. If so, Zeise and Pickett may be able to deliver on their predictions. Failing a defensive fix, though, 5-7 might be a good record for Pitt.
  • I love Jay-Hay. Love his passion, his hustle and his approach to baseball. But where is he? What has happened to Josh Harrison? He seems to decline more every day. Sunday’s loss to the Cardinals featured an 0-for-2 performance in relief of an equally diminishing Colin Moran. Here’s hoping Jay-Hay can turn things around. The Pirates are better with a productive Harrison.

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