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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.

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Pittsburgh Pirates

Parsing GM speak, living with Gregory Polanco and more

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On the latest episode of Locked on Pirates, host Jason Rollison explains how to parse GM Speak, how to live with Gregory Polanco and wonders out loud if the Washington Nationals just opened the floodgates.

All that and more on the latest episode of Locked on Pirates, live for your listening pleasure:

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

Off Day Mailbag with 93.7 The Fan’s Josh Taylor

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On this episode of Locked on Pirates, host Jason Rollison brings in Josh Taylor of 93.7 The Fan to help answer your burning Pittsburgh Pirates questions and more.

The latest episode of Locked on Pirates is available for your listening pleasure. Each off day, we open up our mailbag to your various gripes, salient points and even more gripes (understandable) to help us get through the off day.

Josh is always a great guest, and together we talk Jung Ho Kang, Gregory Polanco and so much more. It’s an engaging bout of Pirates talk without the BS. We hope you enjoy, and if you do please consider subscribing at the links below!

NOTE: Had some audio issues a the beginning which level out at around the 1:00 minute mark. 

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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MiLB

The Locked on Interview – Adam McInturff from 2080 Baseball

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In the return of Locked on Pirates and the Locked on Pirates interview, Alex Stumpf talks the 2018 Pittsburgh Pirates draft with 2080 Baseball’s Adam McInturff. Together the duo go through the 2018 Pirates draft and talk about some of the lesser-known prospects for the West Virginia Power.

Pittsburgh Pirates fans – Subscribe, Rate, Review!

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

Beginning with Opening Day, 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 buttons below to subscribe, and while there, why not leave a review?

 

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