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Pirates week in review – Pitching woes – Polanco struggling and more

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The losses continue to pile up for the Pittsburgh Pirates as they have lost five of their last seven games and continue to lose ground in the National League Central race.

The Pirates opened the season by having immediate success against divisional opponents. They earned series victories against the Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds and Milwaukee Brewers, compiling a 10-3 record against them.

The second time around against the Cubs, Cardinals and Reds wasn’t as pleasant. Over the past week and a half, the Pirates have played all three teams, going 3-7 in that 10 game span. Over the past week, the Bucs have won just two games against the Cubs and Cardinals.

Their recent struggles against NL Central foes have caused the Pirates (29-27) to slip in the division standings as they sit in fourth place, 6.5 games behind the red hot Brewers, who have won eight of their last 10 games.

Here are some of the top storylines from the week that was in Pirates baseball.

Heartbreaking loss in St. Louis Thursday

No loss was more heartbreaking than the one the Pirates endured Thursday in their series opener against the Cardinals at Busch Stadium.

The Bucs trailed right away as the Cardinals struck for four, first-inning runs before slowly marching back. They scored a run in the second, a run in the fourth and two in the fifth to tie the score at 4-4.

St. Louis regained the advantage with a run in the bottom half of the fifth. But the Pirates responded in a big way in the eighth, scoring four runs to take an 8-5 edge. Francisco Cervelli, who continues to be a solid run producer for the Pirates this season, provided the big blow in the form of a three-run home run that gave Pittsburgh the lead.

The three-run cushion didn’t prove to be enough as Felipe Vazquez allowed five runs (four earned) on three hits and one walk. One of the hits he allowed was a walk-off three-run home run by Yairo Munoz.

Vazquez, who has a 13.50 ERA and 3.21 WHIP in his last seven games, didn’t get a runner out en route to his fourth blown save of the season.

The Pirates have had their share of heartbreaking defeats in the past. But this one definitely has to rank up at the top as one of the more deflating losses in the past few years.

Pitching staff struggles

There is really no sugarcoating it. The Pirates’ pitching staff has been plain awful over the last week.

The Pirates have allowed four or more runs in each of their five losses over the past seven games and have surrendered seven or more runs in their last three defeats.

The pitching staff has a 5.08 ERA over the last seven days, good for fourth worst in the NL, and has allowed the third most runs (35) in the league.

Joe Musgrove has really been a bright spot in the starting rotation while guys like Jameson Taillon and Trevor Williams haven’t exactly been the most reliable as of late.

The bullpen was atrocious over the last seven days with the exception of Kyle Crick, who has been the most reliable relief option. Aside from a rough outing against Chicago Monday, Richard Rodriguez has been OK, too.

Edgar Santana, Michael Feliz and Vazquez each appeared in three or more games this past week, allowing a combined 14 runs on 15 hits in seven innings. The trio has combined to allow four home runs while Vazquez and Feliz struggled with command, each walking three batters.

In most instances this season, those three have been relatively reliable. However, over the past week, they made big contributions to the Pirates lack of success.

Polanco’s downward trend

Gregory Polanco‘s 3 for 4 performance against the Cardinals Thursday was a pleasant sight to see.

The fact that he even reached base with a hit was a plus.

Polanco has had struggles before, but I’m not entirely sure he’s played this badly. The 26-year-old’s first base knock Thursday was his first since May 22. Going into the series opener in St. Louis, Polanco was in the midst of an 0 for 19 drought over his previous six games.

Over his last seven games, Polanco is hitting .130 with a .222 on-base percentage. He has also struck out 10 times in 23 at-bats.

His season batting average is now down to .213, and while he is always a threat to hit the long ball, he hasn’t had a home run since May 12.

Polanco opened the season on an absolute tear, giving Pirates fans hope that maybe this was the year that he’d put it all together and reach his full potential. Hopefully his three-hit game Thursday, his first multi-hit contest since May 15, can light a spark in him. But I wouldn’t be surprised if it didn’t.

Over the course of his young major league career, Polanco has proven to be an average baseball player. He has been below average at times and has really carried the team at points as well. This is what Polanco is.

And I don’t think he’ll ever become the superstar the Pirates thought he would be.

Jose Negron is a news/sports reporter for the Mon Valley Independent newspaper in Monessen, Pa. He has contributed Pirates coverage for Rum Bunter and Pirates Breakdown for the last two years. Jose is a 2016 graduate of California University of Pennsylvania with a degree in Journalism.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Interview: Pittsburgh Pirates announcer Joe Block

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Today I had the pleasure of talking to Joe Block for the latest Locked on Pirates podcast.

The Pittsburgh Pirates found a good one when they brought in Joe Block to their announce team prior to the 2016 season. He graciously granted me some time for the Locked on Pirates podcast today while the club is in San Francisco. It was a lively talk that was very eye-opening in many ways. Here ya go:

 

 

Hear Joe’s thoughts on:

  • The role of analytics and advanced stats in his broadcast.
  • The maturation of Gregory Polanco
  • The “creaminess” of the current Pittsburgh Pirates bullpen,
  • And much more!

Pittsburgh Pirates fans – Subscribe, Rate, Review!

Locked on Pirates is the semi-daily Pittsburgh Pirates podcast of choice for discerning Pirates fans.

Jason Rollison from Bucs Dugout and others will help you through the 2018 Pittsburgh Pirates season.

You can help chart the podcast’s success by subscribing to our podcast and writing a review!

We are on every podcast app that ties into iTunes, so search for us! Or, if you’re on an Android or iOS device, please just click the links below to subscribe, and while there, why not leave a review?

Using something other than these three? Just search for “Locked on Pirates” in your podcast app of choice.

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Pittsburgh Pirates

LOP’s Jason Rollison on ESPN Radio’s Adam Crowley show

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Locked on Pirates host Jason Rollison joined Adam Crowley of ESPN Radio in Pittsburgh to talk all things trade deadline. Listen in as they both try to process how the hell the Pittsburgh Pirates got Chris Archer

 

 

Pittsburgh Pirates fans – Subscribe, Rate, Review!

Locked on Pirates is the semi-daily Pittsburgh Pirates podcast of choice for discerning Pirates fans.

Jason Rollison from Bucs Dugout and others will help you through the 2018 Pittsburgh Pirates season.

You can help chart the podcast’s success by subscribing to our podcast and writing a review!

We are on every podcast app that ties into iTunes, so search for us! Or, if you’re on an Android or iOS device, please just click the links below to subscribe, and while there, why not leave a review?

Using something other than these three? Just search for “Locked on Pirates” in your podcast app of choice.

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Pittsburgh Pirates

The Corey Dickerson Dilemma

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The latest episode of Locked on Pirates is LIVE. The Pittsburgh Pirates’ nine-game winning streak has re-fueled a few hot topics going around in Pirates circles.

The latest episode of Locked on Pirates is here:

 

 

Today we talk:

  • The Corey Dickerson Dilemma
  • GM Speak and why it is sometimes necessary
  • Left-handed relievers that could be available

Pittsburgh Pirates fans – Subscribe, Rate, Review!

Locked on Pirates is the semi-daily Pittsburgh Pirates podcast of choice for discerning Pirates fans.

Jason Rollison from Bucs Dugout and others will help you through the 2018 Pittsburgh Pirates season.

You can help chart the podcast’s success by subscribing to our podcast and writing a review!

We are on every podcast app that ties into iTunes, so search for us! Or, if you’re on an Android or iOS device, please just click the links below to subscribe, and while there, why not leave a review?

Using something other than these three? Just search for “Locked on Pirates” in your podcast app of choice.

Continue Reading

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