I’ve said for the past few weeks that if the Pittsburgh Pirates (32-31) can avoid one of their patented midsummer 11-to-16-game losing streaks, there’s no reason they won’t be playing important baseball games come September. Is that losing streak coming early this year?
After winning five consecutive series – mostly against other NL Central foes – and sitting tied with the Cincinnati Reds for the top spot in the division, the Pirates have now lost four straight games with last night’s pathetic performance in Cleveland and sit four out of the division lead.
Bucs starter James McDonald (5-3, 2.32) was once again phenomenal, throwing 6 innings of three-hit, one-run baseball. The run came on a semi-fluky chop down the third base line. With two outs, a full count and Asdrubal Cabrera running from first base on contact, catcher Carlos Santana sliced a grounder over the third base bag. The Pirates had a shift defense on and could only watch Cabrera cross the plate by the time left fielder Alex Presley got to the ball.
Indians pitcher Justin Masterson tossed seven innings of shutout ball, giving up just four hits with nine strikeouts.
The Pirates couldn’t muster up a run, stranding runners in scoring position multiple times over the last few innings. Neil Walker, Josh Harrison and Casey McGehee were the only Bucs to record hits, while every batter aside from McGehee struck out at least once.
This evening, the Pirates will send A.J. Burnett to the mound with the hopes of ending this losing streak and keeping within striking distance of Cincinnati.
Burnett has been nothing short of phenomenal in Pittsburgh. Riding a five-start win streak, Burnett has allowed more than two runs in just two starts this year and has been miles better than his 3.61 ERA indicates.
The Pirates are 8-2 in Burnett’s starts this season. If anyone can get the team over this bump, it’s A.J.
He’ll face former 19-game winner Ubaldo Jimenez (6-4, 4.91) for Cleveland.
Game time is 4:05 PM.
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