Welcome to Pittsburgh Pirates Highs and Lows. Every Monday, I am going to look back on the week that was for the Pirates and give you my best and worst moment.
There are only a few certainties in life and they are death, taxes, and the San Diego Padres frustrating the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park. This week began with such promise as the Pirates began with two straight wins against the Chicago White Sox and one victory against the San Diego Padres. …it all went to hell after that.
The baseball season is long and at times, it can be maddening. The highs are unreal and the lows feel unbearable. This past week seems like the entire season in a microcosm. It featured fantastic, dramatic wins and deflating defeats. The important thing to remember is, we still have a long way to go.
Baseball is a funny game in a lot of ways. One day, you can score seven runs on 10 hits and look completely dominant. The next day, you struggle to scratch across three runs in a tight ballgame.
This was exactly how the two-game series played out against the Chicago White Sox. Game one was a nearly flawless victory where the Pirates lead from start to finish. Game two was difficult and at times the Pirates teetered on the edge of defeat. The Pirates battled to a 2-2 tie with the White Sox going into the seventh inning. In the bottom of the seventh, the Pirates had two on, and one out with Josh Bell up to the plate, he took care of the rest.
Josh Bell’s bat has certainly come to life this month as he is hitting .316/.412/.579/.991 with nine extra-base hits and 11 RBIs. Most importantly, however, is Bell has 10 walks and 10 strikeouts. His approach has been tremendous in May and he has definitely helped carry the Pirates offense.
This go-ahead single may not be remembered for long but at the time, but it’s more proof that Josh Bell is turning into a special hitter before our eyes. It would be easy for a young hitter to do too much during a pinch-hitting opportunity but Bell put the ball into play and found some green. It may not seem like much but young players can often get a little pull-happy but Bell seems to take each at-bat as it comes. If the pitcher isn’t giving him anything to pull, he seems perfectly happy going to the opposite field. The kid is truly a professional hitter and seems to only be getting better.
Baseball is a game that doesn’t let you focus on the highs or lows for too long but I think it’s important to take a moment and look back on the successes. A go-ahead single in the seventh inning isn’t really an iconic moment but plays like this are what get you through the lows of a 162 game season.
Game four of the San Diego Padres series had the look of a dramatic comeback as the Pirates took a 5-4 lead in the eighth inning. Felipe Vasquez entered the game, which normally means victory for the Pirates. However, the San Diego Padres had other ideas.
The San Diego Padres love PNC Park. It doesn’t matter who is wearing the uniform, they always seem to give the Pirates fits when they’re in Pittsburgh. Sunday’s game was the difference between a fairly solid 6-3 homestand and a disappointing 5-4 homestand. Obviously, both are winning records but when you start 5-1, you expect better than three consecutive losses. The Padres really did a great job in the top of the ninth inning. Vasquez never seemed fully locked in and in the end, it spelled doom for the Pirates. This game was one of the most frustrating of the season so far. The Pirates battled back from a 4-1 deficit and seemed poised to steal another ballgame but baseball can be a cruel and terrible game sometimes.
The Padres don’t have too many big names on their club at the moment but they proved they are a capable Big League offense if given the opportunity. They stole a game they probably should have lost. Luckily, the Pirates don’t have time to dwell on this one for long as they will begin a three-game road series against the Cincinnati Reds tonight. Hopefully, the Pirates can return to form and get a much-needed series victory.
The Padres series was mind-bogglingly frustrating for the Pirates. The team, however, still sits at 26-20, which I would guess is better than most people had them doing after 46 games played. The team is still within 1.5 games of first place in the NL Central. So, not too much to worry about following a difficult series. The Reds have traditionally given the Pirates fits as well. Hopefully, the recent trend of the Pirates playing well against NL Central competition continues and trumps the poor history the Pirates have in Great American Ballpark.