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Postgame: Pirates offense absent again in 3-0 loss

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pirates offense continues to sputter

Once again, the offense was unable to muster much of anything, as the Pirates dropped their fifth game in a row 3-0.

Mike Leake kept the Pirates off-balance all night and filled the bottom of the zone with sinkers just below the knees. He allowed only six hits over eight innings and induced a ton of ground balls.

"When he's good he's sinking the ball and he's changing speeds," Clint Hurdle said of Leake. "We had 14 ground balls to the pull side and that's what he's looking to get. He got a bunch of those."

The Pirates are now batting .226/.280/.345 as a team, while scoring only five runs in five May games.

"Sometimes you're in a hurry to hit, and we've talked long and hard about if your manhood's tied to a base hit you're in a hard spot because you've gotta stick with the process, you've gotta look for a good pitch to hit, you've gotta hit the ball hard where it's pitched," Hurdle said. "Trust those things are going to pay off over time. The effort's there. We've gotta have better execution."

The club now finds itself in a very similar situation to last year, when they weren't hitting and had dropped 9.5 games back only 27 games into the season.

"There's no panic in here right now," Neil Walker said. "We just need to do a better job of getting ourselves opportunities and grinding a little better."

"It’s not something we can’t get ourselves out of," Gerrit Cole said. "It’s the nature of the game sometimes and nothing’s easy."

Votto ejection

In the third, Joey Votto struck out on three pitches to end the inning. After slamming his helmet down in disgust, Votto started to make his way down the first base line. For reasons that are still unclear, Votto and Cole appeared to exchange words, which led to first baseman's ejection.

"It sounded like the home plate umpire felt that Joey was saying something to him, and I don't think he was," Bryan Price said. "I think he was just having some back-and-forth with someone on the other team."

Votto wouldn't reveal what was said between him and Cole but apologized for bumping into home plate umpire Chris Conroy after he was ejected.

"As a major-league player, I have a responsibility to be a good example for younger players and making contact with an umpire is unacceptable," Votto said. "During this entire thing, that is the one thing I feel very remorseful for. It was something that crossed the line."

For his part, Cole said he had no idea what happened.

1 for freaking 4

Andrew McCutchen avoided another 0 for 4 night by hitting a line drive single in his last at bat. His one-out single didn't lead to anything, however, as Starling Marte promptly knocked into a double play. 

WAR losses

The slow starts by McCutchen and Harrison, plus the expected drop-off from the catcher's position, looks to be creating quite a WAR deficit for the Pirates. In 2014, McCutchen, Harrison and Russell Martin contributed 16.7 fWAR. According to updated ZiPS projections, the Pirates may only receive 6.8 fWAR from the two players and catcher's position.

2014 WAR 2015 Projected WAR
Harrison 5.0 1.5
McCutchen 6.8 4.5
Martin/Cervelli 4.9 0.8
Total 16.7 6.8

Certainly, we don't want to make too much of projections, but they are the best tools we have for estimating future performance. If they are close to accurate, the Pirates will have to find a significant numbers of wins added from other places on the roster.