Twenty-one losses in a row at Miller Park. The sad part is that so many of them aren't beatings at the hands of the Brewers, but self-inflicted losses, like today.
At some point, the Pirates will figure out that with a runner on third and less than two outs that a run should score. For the eighth straight time they failed to do so, this time in the second inning.
With runners at second and third and nobody out, Andy LaRoche popped out behind the plate on the first pitch. Kenny Macha walked Ronny Cedeno, and Ohlendorf bounced into a DP. It had nothing to do with the Big O's at-bat; LaRoche killed the inning, just like Garrett Jones did in the first frame yesterday.
The team doesn't have enough firepower to pass up easy runs. It's obviously a matter of approach, and they best find one that works. Swinging aggressively and aimlessly sure isn't getting the job done.
In the first four innings, the Bucs had the leadoff runner on three times, and stranded six - and that's with two double plays. They hit into four twin killings in Suppan's six innings. Work soft and away against the Buc batters, and Pittsburgh will bounce out all night.
After trading home runs, the Brew Crew took the lead in the fifth, in an inning that mirrored the Pirate's second. A pop up that fell behind the mound and spun away from Ronny Cedeno (where were you, Ollie?), a two-hop double that ricocheted off the tip of Andy LaRoche's glove, and an intentional walk loaded the bases for pitcher Jeff Suppan.
It was the same situation as Pittsburgh had earlier: bases juiced, one out, and the pitcher up. But the results were decidedly different.
Suppan walked on a 3-2 pitch, and never took the bat off of his shoulders. Suppan was taking every pitch; Kenny Macha didn't want him to hit into a DP like his counterpart did. Then a two-out bloop single, after being ahead 0-2 on the count, plated another pair in an inning that would have been long over with a play or a strike.
So, just like yesterday, the Pirates fail to break out early, and it cost them the game. They're not going to win late; in the three game series, the Milwaukee bullpen has shut out Pittsburgh over a stretch of ten innings.
The Pirates continue on the road, going to Cincy for a day-night double header tomorrow. Here's the probable pitchers from MLB.com (Daniel McCuchen will pitch the first game; they have it listed as TBA. Let's hope he doesn't know how badly the team plays on the road.)
-- The Bucs got their A team on the field today. Ronny Cedeno tested his achy finger out at short, and Ryan Doumit was let out of the doghouse and went back behind the dish.
-- The Pirates regained their senses and called up RHP Daniel McCutchen, who will arrive tomorrow. He was lights out at Indy, going 13-6 with a 3.47 ERA. The other McCutch was slated to pitch for the US World Cup team, which was a nice honor in itself.
But the Bucs need an arm now, with a couple of doubleheaders - one tomorrow, in fact, at Cincy - on tap and spot starts coming up when Ross Ohlendorf and Kevin Hart reach their inning limits later in September. McCutchen was the obvious choice to fill that bill.
The Pirates will have to take a guy off the MLB roster, probably for a day, and cut someone loose from the 40-man to make room for McCutchen. No moves have been announced yet.
-- Jeff Clement, who had a hot start at Indy after coming over in the Jack Splat trade, has a strained oblique. That will delay, if not prevent, his September arrival. He was hitting a combined .274-21-90 in AAA, but just .221 at Indy.