Maybe obscurity isn’t so bad. After being almost entirely ignored by the national sports media for years, the Pirates finally got some attention a couple weeks ago, only it was on comedy shows. Now they’re at it again. This time it was their best player, who apparently failed to wear his mask in the clubhouse and got infected with the PIRATE-21 virus.
In the bottom of the first, Ke’Bryan Hayes lined a ball just over the fence in the right field corner for an apparent home run. Except that Hayes clearly failed to touch first on his way past. The Dodgers noticed and appealed, and after the replay Hayes was called out.
It’s easy to say everybody makes mistakes, which is true enough, but the two recent bonehead plays were literally the two dumbest plays I can remember in over half a century of following major league baseball. And they were both the Pirates and came less than two weeks apart. And let’s not forget that Will Craig had a bunch of accomplices who showed not a whit more understanding of the game than he did. Or that Hayes’ blunder happened right in front of the first base coach.
There’s just something wrong here. Maybe it’s the endless signals from ownership that winning is just something that’d be kinda nice. Maybe it’s the “all is well” messages from the manager. I don’t know the explanation, but this team just isn’t playing the same game as everybody else.
To add insult to injury, Hayes singled his second time up, but tried to advance to second on a long drive by Bryan Reynolds that was caught by A.J. Pollock. Hayes beat the throw but overslid the bag — it actually looked like Chris Taylor pushed him off the bag — and was called out.
The failure to do something early was especially a shame because, for four innings, J.T. Brubaker outpitched Walker Buehler. He gave up just two hits, walked nobody and fanned six during that time.
In the fifth, though, the Dodgers got a runner to third with one out on a single and a two-base error by Gregory Polanco. The Dodgers aren’t the Pirates, going 1-for-9 with RISP day after day. A double and a triple brought in two runs and chased Brubaker with two outs. Chasen Shreve came on and gave up an RBI single to cost Brubaker a third run.
The Pirates managed a run in the eighth when Phillip Evans singled and eventually scored on Adam Frazier’s 21st double. By then it was 5-1, as Chris Stratton had give up a two-run home run to Taylor.
The Pirates of course didn’t “give up.” Duane Underwood, Jr., pitched the eighth and ninth scorelessly. Bryan Reynolds added a second run when he led off the ninth with his ninth home run of the year, and Michael Perez hit his fourth with two out. Everybody else in the inning struck out.
So, as always, there were encouraging signs. Frazier and Reynolds, and of course Hayes, are really good. Brubaker is establishing himself as a good starter. But the Pirates need to start convincing people that they realize encouraging signs aren’t enough.