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Pirates continue September sleepwalk in 5-2 loss

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Pittsburgh Pirates v Cincinnati Reds Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

I’ve been wondering what it was like today to be Gerrit Cole. Through five innings, you’re sailing along with a one-hit shutout, with six strikeouts, against a very good lineup in a bandbox of a ballpark. And the lineup you’re relying on for support has two old guys with averages far short of the Mendoza line, and an old guy in right field who’s not much above it and whose glovework would be far below the Mendoza line if there was a Mendoza line for defense.

So you’re sailing along with this shutout, but your team’s lineup is facing a guy who came in with an ERA of 5.45. And you know that an ERA of 5.45 strikes fear into the hearts of your team’s hitters. Or it would, anyway, if they were awake, because you have to be awake to be terrified. By the time you head out for the bottom of the sixth, this struggling pitcher has his own one-hit shutout going, and he’s mowed down eight guys who carry sticks for no reason on strikes. Even worse, you had the only hit.

And it gets worse. Your hit was a double and it followed a leadoff walk to Chris Stewart, whom nobody with a modicum of control would walk, except your team’s hitters don’t seem to understand that. So you created a second-and-third situation, with no outs, for the top of your team’s order. But the leadoff hitter veterans his way to a three-pitch strikeout, and the next two guys pop out.

So by the bottom of the sixth, you’ve got to be pretty fed up. And your inning goes: Walk, HR, Walk, HR. And you’re gone. How much of that would you attribute to frustration? I really don’t know, but I’d be inclined to cut you a break.

Anyway, the rest of the game goes as scripted. White Flag Hudson looks great for two hitters, then gives up a walk and a triple. Jack Leathersich and Johnny Barbato do a better job of locking the barn door.

Meanwhile, the Reds send a nothingburger, 26-year-old rookie with a 5.87 ERA out to pitch the eighth and John Jaso shows the Pirates’ bench-ridden rookies how to compete with a meaningless two-run HR. Thank heavens the young guys are getting a chance to watch the old guys show how the (golf) game is played.

Then Michael Lorenzen, who apparently has a clause in his contract that says he gets to pitch in every Pirates game (or if he doesn’t he should), has an easy, seven-pitch ninth. (Lorenzen now has a career ERA of 1.89 against the Pirates and 4.85 against major league teams.) And that’s it, 5-2.