Despite their 12-16 record which is good for a tie with the Milwaukee Brewers for second to last in the NL Central, the Pittsburgh Pirates have not had many games where they weren't even competitive. Sunday afternoon was one of those rare occasions. The Pirates never had a chance in this game and for even the most hardcore fan, it would have been difficult to watch. It was the perfect storm of all the weaknesses of the club rearing it's head.
Charlie Morton started this game looking to rebound from his last start where he failed to make it out of the fifth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals. He did not do a whole lot better. In the very first inning, he walked Drew Stubbs. Stubbs then advanced to third on a throwing error (that actually probably should have been charged to Casey McGehee) and scored on a sacrifice fly by Joey Votto.
The Pirates squandered their one and only realistic chance to put up a crooked number in the first inning. Mat Latos hit Jose Tabata and then walked two more batters to load the bases with just one out in the inning. McGehee then lined out to Todd Frazier at third base and Nate McLouth, who started for the still ill Andrew McCutchen, struck out looking. Latos took over after that. He ended up striking out a career high 11 batters and the Pirates as a team struck out an astonishing 17 times.
Morton ended up throwing six innings but he only got out of two of them unscathed. Frazier hit a solo home run off of him in the second inning. Stubbs hit a two run home run off of him in the third. The final run of the game was also charge to Morton when Stubbs worked his way from first to third essentially on his own once again and Brandon Phillips brought him in with a sacrifice fly.
Nothing at all went right for the Pirates. They didn't get the great pitching that they have gotten all season long. They didn't get any of the tremendous defense that they received the prior night. Pedro Alvarez is doing nothing but walking to first base because opposing pitchers have no reason to throw to him with McCutchen out. Clint Barmes struck out all three times he batted and Mike McKenry struck out three times as well.
If all that isn't bad enough, the Pirates get to see the best pitching staff going in baseball right now starting on Tuesday night when the Washington Nationals come to town. Phenom Stephen Strasburg is starting the final game of that series. Know what is even scarier than that? His mound opponent is Kevin Correia.