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The Pirates just can’t gain any momentum

If you’ve been waiting for the 2024 Pittsburgh Pirates to get on a roll, you might have to wait a little longer.

How much longer? It’s hard to say, but it may never happen.

Independence Day at PNC Park was the latest example of the Buccos’ inability to take a step and gain some momentum–both in their confidence and in the standings–as they fell to the Cardinals, 3-2, in 10 innings.

A 3-2 loss to a National League Central Division rival isn’t that troubling in a vacuum, but it was the fourth defeat at the hands of St. Louis in the six games played between the two organizations so far this year. Speaking of momentum, coming off a 2023 campaign in which Pittsburgh finished ahead of the Cardinals in the standings for the first time since 1999, the Pirates probably saw that as a sign that their baseball ship had finally gained the upper hand over their biggest rivals (or at least their biggest nemesis). But here we are in early July, and the Cardinals are sitting in that third wildcard spot and are slowly pulling away from the Bucs.

What once was a half-a-game disadvantage in the wildcard standings a few weeks ago is now four. The Pirates are hanging around and also just four-and-a-half games back of San Diego for that second wildcard spot, but when will they make a move? Another question: Are they even capable of making a move in the standings, or has this extra wildcard just given teams like Pittsburgh (41-45 after Thursday’s loss) a deluded sense of contention?

Then again, maybe the Pirates know who they are internally, and it’s really the fans and media who are deluding themselves into thinking the local baseball team, one that hasn’t been above .500 since April 24, is a legit contender.

Over the past couple of weeks, the Pirates have lost four of six to the Cardinals and won four of six over the Reds. They also took two of three from the Rockies but lost two of three to both the Rays and Braves. That’s a record of 10-11 over the past 21 games.

Perhaps this is just who the 2024 Pittsburgh Pirates are. They’re just sort of hanging around. They’re not good enough to get on a roll, but they’re not bad enough to go in the tank.

Maybe a true slide will happen now that rookie pitching phenom Jared Jones was placed on the 15-day injured list with a lat injury. Then again, the Pirates seem to have more than enough arms to compensate for Jones until he is healthy and ready to go again.

As has been covered before in this space, it’s the Pirates’ offense that ultimately may be the leak that sinks their boat in 2024.

Thanks to the extra wildcard and a mediocre National League, the hole may not be big enough to sink the Buccos ship in the immediate future, but unless something changes with the bats, Pittsburgh will continue to take on water until it descends to the bottom of the Allegheny River.

The Pirates close out their homestand with a four-game weekend series against the Mets.

Maybe the Buccos can sweep the series and gain some ground on one of the teams they’re trying to leapfrog in the wildcard standings.

But they’ll probably go 2-2.


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