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Pirates lose in 16 innings

Justin K. Aller

It's getting exhausting to alternate between blowouts and extra-inning losses like this. I watched a lot of this one with my phone, and every time I took it out, I thought, "Come on, Pirates. Keep it together."

Do you remember when the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004? When the narrative of the whole season was about how the organization was cursed? Man, it must have been grating to hear about supernatural nonsense that whole season. And yet, it was hard not to feel that there was some possibility that the curse actually mattered, even if you knew in your brain that it didn't.

Nothing about the World Series that year was close. After three games, the Sox were up 3-0 on the Cardinals. And in the fourth game, they were up 3-0 with two outs in the ninth. At that point, for the Red Sox to lose that series would have been close to impossible. And yet, when Edgar Renteria hit a chopper to Keith Foulke for what looked to be the final out, I felt sure that Foulke was going to botch the toss to first, or that Doug Mientkiewicz was going to inexplicably drop the ball.

None of those things happened. The Red Sox swept the Cardinals. Curse over. Now, you can believe what you feel to be true, or you can step back a bit. The Pirates aren't cursed. It's not inevitable that what has happened the last two weeks will continue. In fact, it's not even likely. And I think that some of the predictions I've seen of the Pirates not having a winning season, or playing .250 baseball from here on out, aren't rational, even though we all know there aren't many outcomes that are impossible. But I can certainly understand having concerns about this team, and when they lose this way over and over, it feels like the season is falling apart. We have to check the standings to remind ourselves that's just not true.

So, yeah. 16 innings. Kris Johnson pitched six innings before finally crumpling in a heap, so at least this won't ruin the bullpen. (Kris Johnson's reward for being a mensch will likely be a demotion, with the outside chance that his first big-league outing will also be his last.) The Pirates' offense, meanwhile, went 13 innings without scoring.

A few notes, since I missed a lot today:

-P- To make room for Johnson, the Pirates demoted Andrew Lambo, whose stay in the majors certainly was short.

-P- I enjoyed Brian O'Neill's take on this moment in Pirates fandom.

-P- In case you missed it, the Bradenton Marauders got in a bench-clearing brawl with Mientkiewicz and the Fort Myers Miracle this weekend.