Tim Benz: Numbers show Pirates bad week may continue in Texas
I feel like a weatherman who accurately calls for heavy rain but misses the hurricane.
Last week, I warned Pittsburgh Pirates fans what may be coming against Arizona and Los Angeles. But I had no idea things would go as badly as they did.
The Pirates entered those seven games last week red hot, having grabbed four of five contests against the Giants and Tigers. The Bucs’ dominant starting pitching was the toast of the town as the franchise had gone 10 straight games holding opponents to three runs or less.
But I told you to bring an umbrella because a storm was coming in the form of the Diamondbacks and Dodgers, two of the best hitting teams in the National League.
Here’s how it went for Clint Hurdle and company.
• The Pirates lost all seven games and have now dropped eight in a row overall.
• On average, the Pirates allowed 6.57 runs per game. That’s a worse pace than Baltimore’s 5.96, which is the highest in MLB this season.
• The usually brilliant starting staff absorbed the losses in five of those seven defeats.
• Jordan Lyles, Chris Archer, Jameson Taillon and Trevor Williams all had starts during the week where they left allowing at least five runs.
So, it wasn’t pretty.
It’s not going to be any easier against the Texas Rangers these next two games in Arlington.
The Pirates visit Texas on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Rangers are a mediocre 14-13. But their 10-4 home record stands out. The Houston Astros and Oakland A’s are the only other two American League teams with at least 10 home wins this season.
Manager Chris Woodward’s players have scored 162 runs, tied with the Dodgers for the second-highest total in baseball. Only Seattle has more at a gaudy 184.
Texas is also 10th in hits (242), tied for eighth in homers (41), sixth in team batting average (.263), fourth in team slugging percentage (.471), and sixth in OPS (.814).
Shortstop Elvis Andrus is leading the way. He has the American League’s second-best batting average (.365), third-best on-base percentage (.426), and fifth-best OPS (1.022).
So, the test will continue. Lyles (2-1, 2.05 ERA) pitches Tuesday. Taillon (1-3, 4.06 ERA) gets the call Wednesday.
The good news is that the Rangers yield a lot of runs, too. Their runs allowed per game is 5.54. Only the Orioles’ total is worse. The Phillies and Orioles are the only teams with a higher batting average against than Texas (.271). And the pitching staff’s 1.56 WHIP is at the bottom of Major League Baseball.
Adrian Sampson (0-1, 4.50 ERA) throws the series opener tomorrow for Texas. Shelby Miller (1-1 7.52) gets the start Wednesday.
Here’s a novel concept for Hurdle’s Bucs — score to win.