The Pittsburgh Pirates had (past tense operative) been playing better of late (they were on an 8-2 stretch) and were four games above .500 heading into their three-game set with their division rival Chicago Cubs, but they took a pounding that ended in a sweep following Thursday night’s 7-2 defeat by the Cubbies to drop the Pirates to 34-33 on the year.
Johan Oviedo got the start for the Buccos, and though he struck out eight batters in just four and a third innings, he also gave up four runs on eight hits and has now lost his last two starts to fall to 3-6 on the season.
The bats were mostly silent for the Bucs, as they managed just six total hits on the evening, with a Connor Joe double being the only non-single hit of the night, while Jason Delay went 2-for-3 as the only multi-hit Pirate.
The Bucs also lost 10-6 and 11-3 against the Cubs, with the pitching staff mostly struggling all series. Thankfully, however, the Buccos are in one of the weakest divisions in baseball, and despite the sweep, they still hold a half-game lead over the Milwaukee Brewers, a one-game lead over the Cincinnati Reds and a three-game lead over the Cubs.
Things are about to get real interesting, however, as the Bucs head to Milwaukee for a three-game weekend set that will put one of these teams in the division lead, before returning home on Monday for a rematch with the Cubs.
As a quick note, tonight’s game is a special Apple TV national broadcast. Rich Hill is scheduled to be on the mound tonight for the Buccos, followed tomorrow by Mitch Keller, so hopefully those guys can bring some juice to the struggling staff.