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Analysis: Pirates quickly turn sloppy after 11-game winning streak

July 31, 2018

New York Mets' Amed Rosario (1) scores ahead of the tag by Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Richard Rodriguez, center, on a wild pitch during the seventh inning of a baseball game in Pittsburgh, Thursday, July 26, 2018. Watching the play is umpire John Tumpane, right. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Now that the Pirates are back in contention for a wild-card spot, allegedly the most fun part is that we can talk actual baseball again.

In other words, we can discuss what takes place on the field, not just the economics of the game and the Pirates’ frustrating ways of handling the roster.

But that’s a two-way street. That doesn’t just mean we barf praise all over them and then pretend the game itself didn’t happen when they lose.

Now that the Pirates have lost two in a row to throw the brakes on an 11-game winning streak, we have to talk about how they have played in those two games as they step out of the clouds.

Their play in these last two losses to the Indians and Mets on Wednesday and Thursday can be described in one word: sloppy!

Over the last two games, the Pirates have committed four errors and misplayed a few other balls that didn’t count as errors. Their team strikeout-to-walk ratio at the plate has been 23-6.

The Pirates pitching staff walked nine batters and uncorked three wild pitches last night. All five relievers who came out of the bullpen these last two days have allowed at least one run (Tyler Glasnow’s last night was unearned).

Aside from that, they’ve been great.

Not to mention Clint Hurdle’s questionable line up against the Indians on Wednesday.

The Pirates enter play today within 3 1/2 games of the wild card. They have three teams between themselves and a spot in the playoffs.

So that’s still enticing for local baseball fans and a far cry from the drudgery of what we were experiencing watching this team as recently as the Fourth of July. But part of the joy of tracking pennant race baseball is suffering through the losses as much as enjoying the wins.

That was the case for those three years in the early 1990s. That was the case in 2013-2015. Now that the Pirates have come back to reality, it is fair to say they have played poorly en route to these two losses and didn’t give themselves much of a quality chance to make up ground on days when the Braves and Diamondbacks also lost or were idle.

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