Opinion: Poor play has Pirates facing first adversity of season


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The Pittsburgh Pirates compete in the National League of Major League Baseball.

Connor Boros, Staff Writer

Following their unexpected hot start to the season, the Pittsburgh Pirates have hit a cold streak to start May.

The lack of exceptional play on the field has resulted in a seven-game losing streak during which the Bucs have an atrocious team-combined 8.13 ERA and an abysmal .184 batting average. Starting pitcher Johan Oveido, who appeared to be a rising star for the Pirates, has highlighted the jump in ERA with 13 runs allowed in just 7.1 innings in his past two starts. 

One of the major factors in the losing streak has been playing high-level competition – the Blue Jays and the Rays, two of the best teams in baseball. Another factor is that the Pirates are facing adversity: The injuries to Andrew McCutchen, Ji-Hwan Bae, Wil Crowe, O’Neil Cruz, and Vince Velasquez, among others, have been a notable reason behind the recent poor play. 

Thankfully, Velasquez, McCutchen, and Bae appear to be on track to return to the active roster soon and hopefully will continue their dominant play. 

Another issue that has plagued the Bucs during this slump has been not being able to get out of innings when there are two outs. The same team that had a record 11-straight quality starts has allowed 19 runs with two outs over the seven-game losing streak. The pitching staff needs to get out of innings when it matters most. 

The defense is at fault too. Errors in the field – most notably during the 8-1 loss to Tampa Bay last Wednesday – have given opponents more opportunities to score runs and wear down a pitching staff that already needs more help than ever. 

Meanwhile, the Pirates have not been able to score with runners in scoring position, highlighting their lack of offense recently. Against Tampa Bay, the Bucs went 0-17 with runners in scoring position, and would only score their first such run during the series finale in the ninth inning, when it was already too late for it to matter. 

On Saturday, Blue Jays starter Jose Berrios, a typically mediocre right-hander, took a perfect game into the sixth inning against the Bucs. 

If these statistics do not say enough about how bad the offense has been, only two home runs have been hit in the last seven games. 

However, even with the recent losing ways, the season is still young and the Pirates can regain more of a cushion in the NL Central, which they still lead by 0.5 games over Milwaukee as of today. 

The Bucs hope to return to their winning ways against the Rockies for their second three-game series against them this year. In the first series, the Pirates outscored Colorado by 24 runs. 

After Colorado, though, the Pirates will once again be tested by the Orioles and the red-hot Diamondbacks. By then fans should be able to see if they are truly a contender or a pretender in the National League.