For the second straight year, the Pirates have gone from a contender to a wanna-be pretender. They were once 16 games over .500 and in the lead of the N.L. Wild Card. Things have certainly changed in the past six weeks, and, the Bucs have all but clinched a 20th straight losing season, extending their North American sports record.
Individually, the accomplishments by guys like Andrew McCutchen, Pedro Alvarez, Garrett Jones, and A.J. Burnett have been admirable, but overall, this season has been in a downward spin in the past month and a half, and the fact that we sit here on the final weekend of September, and the Pirates have only won a handful of games this month, is absolutely embarrassing.
The Pirates currently sit at 76-80 on the season, and with six games remaining, can we all do the math? They need to undefeated over their final two series against the Reds and Atlanta Braves to secure their first winning season since 1992. It is a far cry from where they were earlier this year. The atmosphere at PNC Park this weekend is sure to be a familiar one, full of bitterness, sarcasm, and short-fused heckling of the home team.
9/28 – Homer Bailey (CIN) (12-10, 3.92 ERA, 152 K, 51 BB, WHIP 1.30) vs. A.J. Burnett (PIT) (16-8, 3.53 ERA, 172 K, 59 BB, WHIP 1.23)
9/29 – Mike Leake (CIN) (8-9, 4.73 ERA, 113 K, 38 BB, WHIP 1.36) vs. Kyle McPherson (PIT) (0-2, 3.54 ERA, 16 K, 6 BB, WHIP 1.28)
9/30 – Johnny Cueto (CIN) (19-9, 2.83 ERA, 164 K, 48 BB, WHIP 1.18) vs. Wandy Rodriguez (PIT) (12-13, 3.79 ERA, 132 K, 55 BB, WHIP 1.27)
As for the Reds, they are preparing for what they hope (and expect) to be an extensive playoff run into the latter part of October. They have a high powered offense, a dominant bullpen, and one of the biggest home-field advantages in baseball at Great American Ballpark. They have already clinched the N.L. Central title after running away from the rest of the division in the second half of the season. Will they rest their starters this weekend against the Pirates? Doubtful. More than likely, the Bucs will get their best in this three game series.
With nothing to play for but pride and respect, the Pirates will host the division champion Reds for three games. The Pittsburgh fan base is especially disappointed in the team’s play over the past six weeks, so a lackluster showing against Cincinnati could result in some aggravated PNC Park fans this weekend.
Be sure to check back here for the latest recaps and reactions to each game of the series, from us, the Fans From The Stands!
Let’s Go Bucs!