The Pirates are a tough team to figure out. Within a two week span, they got swept by the Padres before taking two-of-three against the Cardinals. Just when it looks like they figured it out, they get swept by the Brewers in Milwaukee with their three best pitchers starting for them. Thank goodness for the Buccos, the Dodgers, Cardinals and other teams in the wild card race are struggling as well. Entering today’s game against the Houston Astros, the Pirates remained just 1.5 out of the race. With six against the Astros and Cubs combined this week, the Pirates needed to makeup some serious ground.
The only thing is, they didn’t.
Before the game, Clint Hurdle said that all three corners of the triangle had to connect. He was, of course, talking about pitching, hitting and defense. Aside from Garrett Jones, none of the others turned up.
The Pirates went with Triple-A call up Jeff Locke today against the Astros. Locke, who pitched better than his final line indicated, ran in to trouble early.
Locke would fill the bases full of Astros with no outs before getting a come backer to record a force out at home plate. The following batter hit a ball up the middle that was fielded by Brock Holt. As he attempted to lay a tag on baserunner Jason Maxwell who was headed towards second, Maxwell appeared to step well outside of the baseline which left Holt throwing on to first for the only out.
Locke said after the game that plays like that happen and Pirates manager Clint Hurdle added that the umpire definitely made a mistake.
In the fifth, Clint Barmes had a chance at a double play, but instead fired the throw to first after being unable to grip the ball allowing both runner on first and second to be safe. With the way it has been going for the Pirates lately, it got worse.
Locke said if he could have one pitch back, it would be a curveball that he threw to Brett Wallace. That curve that Wallace hit, ended up in the seats in right center field for a h0me run and a 5-0 Astros lead.
Mustering only one run and five hits, three by Jones, off the Astros, Hurdle said the team has to get back to work tomorrow.
“We’ve got to play better. We’ve got to connect the dots better,” Hurdle said. “We’ve got to put a foot down tomorrow is what we need to do.”
Looking to end the five-game skid tomorrow will be Wandy Rodriguez (9-13, 3.86 ERA) as he faces his old team and teammate Jordan Lyles (3-10, 5.46 ERA) for the Astros. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05.
Photo Credits: Santa Maria Times