Diamondbacks sweep 4-game series from reeling Pirates
Has 5½ weeks of consistent losing finally pushed Clint Hurdle and the Pirates to a breaking point?
Psychologically, the Pirates manager insists it has not. But after another languid loss Sunday, Hurdle hinted he will make some changes in an effort to reverse course in a season that is rapidly spiraling toward irrelevancy.
“I’ll kind of rearrange some things, probably, with the staff, talk about some things,” Hurdle said after his team’s losing streak hit five with 3-0 defeat to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Asked to elaborate, Hurdle quickly interrupted.
“I’m just talking,” he said.
A managerial veteran of more than 2,300 major league games, Hurdle’s style is cerebral, steady and even-keeled. Even if he was angry the Pirates have lost nine of their past 10 series and 24 of their past 34 games, he wouldn’t show it.
“We’re going to keep playing. The season is not going to stop,” Hurdle said. “Nobody is going to feel sorry for us. These guys are in here working hard to get better. We haven’t gotten better.”
Nope. The Pirates are batting .224 in June. They are closer to last place in the NL Central than a playoff spot. They’re a season-low five games under .500.
But if the losing has taken its tool in the clubhouse, it hasn’t been palpably visible. After Sunday’s loss, players joked with each other as they got dressed in shirts and ties in preparation for an 11-day road trip.
“I always say, ‘Baseball, as a game, it doesn’t care about your feelings,’ ” Josh Harrison said. “Whether things are going poor, you’re doing bad, things are going well, baseball doesn’t care. That’s why you’ve got to keep showing up every day. And I’ll tell you this: We’re going to stay committed to the hustle, the grind of going out there and giving it all we got every day.”
Effort wasn’t an issue Sunday. Instead, it was another early deficit that left the Pirates’ slumping offense stuck in a futile chase mode.
For the third time in the four-game Arizona sweep, the Pirates trailed by multiple runs before they had an at-bat. For the third time in the series, they scored fewer than three runs.
Although he retired 12 of the final 13 batters he faced, Trevor Williams (6-5) allowed home runs to two of the first six batters.
“Unfortunately,” Williams said of home runs by David Peralta and John Ryan Murphy, “that was the game today.”
The Pirates managed just five hits against Clay Buchholz and three relievers. At least they finally got two extra-base hits after being limited to just 11 singles in the previous two games.
But both were doubles, but neither time did the player advanced any farther. No Pirate reached third base.
Buchholz (2-1) became the latest in a line of starting pitchers who shut down the Pirates over the past week. The Pirates had only two baserunners and did not have a batted ball with an exit velocity of at least 100 mph in six innings against Buchholz before he was removed because of tightness in his left side.
Perhaps most damning, Buchholz claimed he didn’t even have his best stuff.
“I missed with some pitches that just didn’t get hit,” he said. “It usually doesn’t go that way.”
Against the Pirates these days, it does. They’ve scored just nine runs over their past six games.
“Guys are grinding, man,” Harrison said. “It’s frustrating within that grind where some of the results might not be there. But the beauty of this game is we get a chance to come back tomorrow.
“All it takes is one game, one pitch, and guys are holding to that knowing that any given night we can break out. For guys in a rut, a team in a rut, all it might take is one night.
“Baseball is unpredictable. We know where we’re at, We’ve just got to keep showing up, and it’ll turn around.”
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at [email protected] or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.