Missing Offense Alert!
Apparently I am not the only one that was on vacation last week.
The Pirates’ offense has gone missing at exactly the wrong time. While my first five vacation days featured perfect beach weather and an epic body-surfing exhibition from yours truly, the Pirates’ offense’s vacation featured five straight losses to three teams.
Only thing I lost was two pair of sunglasses in unfortunate body surfing incidents. Amazing how once those things are out of your hands, they are impossible to find.
The saving grace for the Pirates during this run-scoring hiatus is excellent pitching. The Bucs snapped the losing streak last Saturday with a 3-1 win over the Cubs despite only scoring in one inning. Those three runs represented the only runs the Pirates had scored in it’s previous 25 half innings at the plate, and the only runs in 32 total half-innings over three and a half games.
Things did not get better Sunday as the Pirates again struggled to score despite outstanding pitching. Starter Jameson Taillon threw six strong, and a handful of relievers held the Cubs to one run for the fourth consecutive game. The offense did just enough to scratch out an extra-inning, 2-1 win.
Think about that – Pirates’ pitchers allowed four runs to the Cubs in 38 total innings of baseball, but only won two of those games.
And that is why the Pirates are only a mediocre team. Good teams win three of those games – playoff teams win them all and thank the Cubs for not showing up for four games.
With the type of turnaround needed to make a real push for a wildcard spot, one has to wonder how the August 31, waiver trade deadline might go for a team that bought in July.
The Pirates do have a flair for the dramatic, though, and playoffs or not, it is hard to not feel good about the season to this point. Adam Frazier’s walk-off home run on Sunday to send the Cubs packing was a season highlight video moment and, for the time being, extends the hope, as fleeting as it may be.
- Funny, while the Pirates are eight games out in the division, and 5.5 games, and five teams to leapfrog, out of a wildcard spot, Cubs fans have to be much more alarmed about their team than Pirates fans. The Bucs have, and continue to, overachieved this season while the Cubs are supposed to cruise to another National League pennant. Four runs in four games? The Cubs have some issues. Maybe they are resolved by Kris Bryant returning to the lineup, but as a Pirates fan who positively cannot stand Joe Maddon and the Cubs in general, it was fun to watch them struggle over four games at PNC.
- Some takeaways from whatever that was last Thursday night in Green Bay:
- Very hard to really be alarmed by the Steelers’ “defense,” but I am alarmed by the Steelers’ defense, or lack thereof. The starters were shredded and the Steelers continue to look for answers in pass coverage. I would be encouraged by the slightly better performance by the run defense if it was anything more than Green Bay realizing they could throw at will.
- Camp rumors of James Connor’s improvement and emergence as the backup to Le’Veon Bell appear to be legitimate. Could there be a better story than that? Connor is impossible to root against and deserves every good thing that comes his way.
- James Washington may be the next in a long line of Steelers’ receivers who thrive in the Roethlisberger era. More encouraging than his on-field performance is what he said about trying to watch everything Antonio Brown does so he can continuously improve. If Brown is your role model and you are serious about mimicking his routines and approach, and you are as talented as Washington appears to be, you have a bright future in the NFL.