As I write this piece, the Pittsburgh Pirates have lost 10 consecutive games.
This string of losses is the longest streak of its kind for the Pirates this season, but the Bucs have amassed losing streaks of six twice, the first coming at the beginning of the season; the second coming at the end of May.
In 1963, the New York Mets lost 22 consecutive games. They went 51-111 that season. The 1943 Philadelphia Athletics also lost 22 consecutive games. They finished 49-105-1. Earlier this season, the Baltimore Orioles lost 14 consecutive games. They are currently 22-44. The Arizona Diamondbacks have also lost 13 consecutive games this season (and currently maintain a streak of 12).
We’re not quite ready to ask if the Pirates are going to challenge the longest losing streak of all time — yet — but we might be ready to ask if they’re going to challenge this season’s longest losing streak. To match the Orioles incompetence, the Pirates would have to be swept by Cleveland (36-28), then lose the first game to the Chicago White Sox (42-25). Consecutive losses through the White Sox series would give this season a new champion of losing.
But a historical drought seems unlikely. At the conclusion of the Chicago series, the Pirates will head back on the road to play four games in St. Louis (34-33), then three in Colorado (27-41). As bad as the Pirates have been for much of this season, it’s unlikely they’ll cobble together that many losses, particularly with the Rockies being the final line that can’t break.
This is a Pirates team that, after starting the season 1-6, ended up going 12-13 in April. But in May, Pittsburgh carried an 8-20 record; through June, they currently hold a 3-11 record. In fact, the team’s win percentage (.348) is nearing last year’s abysmal output (.317). Don’t fret, though, because it seems like the Pirates won’t be that bad, as reaching a .317 win percentage over 162 games would require a maximum of 51.35 wins (in other words, finishing with the same record as those ‘63 Mets).
I know, I know. This conversation is a bit bleak and makes you question your Pirates’ fanhood perhaps. But here’s the deal, in a season like this current one, you have to take the entertainment you can get. At some point, sheer incompetence overpowers all other storylines and you stay aboard just to see how badly things can go.
So at this point: How bad can the Pirates be? I would request that you tell me, but I don’t think any of us could’ve predicted some of the shortcomings we’ve seen this season (not tagging first base with two outs, failing to touch the bag on a home run). At this rate, the Pirates (-98 run differential) and the Diamondbacks (-84 run differential) are in a race to the bottom. Should be fun!