The Pittsburgh Pirates need to stay the course.
Manager Clint Hurdle has claimed as much saying after their latest loss to the Oakland Athletics: “We’re not changing lanes. We’re staying the course.”
Peaks and valleys. Valleys and peaks. That’s baseball season and the Pirates are certainly in one of those valleys to start the month of July, after dropping their fourth game in a row and six of their last eight. The chief culprit for the Pirates’ recent dismal stretch has been the hitting, in particularly, the bench.
Their last three losses have all been by one run, and a timely pinch-hit was needed in all three, but was nowhere to be found. Pirate pinch-hitters have scratched out only one pinch-hit during the recent losing streak and are now batting a paltry .148 on the season, with only one homer and 11 RBI.
That’s unacceptable, as a number of pitching staffs around the league are hitting higher than that.
Yet despite Hurdles vote of confidence, without bench production, the valleys will soon start to outnumber the peaks as the long season wears on. Reserves are always a key to any successful major league baseball season.
Gaby Sanchez (.233/7/24), Brandon Inge (.184/1/7) and Travis Snider (.225/3/22), the main block of Pirate reserves, have all underperformed so far this year, and questions about changes are naturally starting to arise. Deep in pitching, the Pirates could make a move by trading any number of pitchers without causing too much damage to a staff that leads all of MLB in ERA (3.12) and shutouts (12).
For now though, the Pirates do indeed appear to be staying the course as they head into the All-Star break next week. A few more wins will let them know they’re on the right one.