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There’s more to baseball than just pitching, and the Pirates found that out on Saturday

The Pirates have Paul Skenes!

It’s too bad they don’t have Paul…well, I can’t think of an all-time great slugger with Paul as a first name. Maybe Paul Molitor? He’s a Hall of Famer. He had over 3,300 hits during his career.

I guess Molitor is an all-time great Paul on offense. Maybe even the best hitting Paul ever (I didn’t do much research for this).

Anyway, the point is this: The Pirates will need more than great pitching if they’re ever going to turn the corner and become a legit contender in the National League Central Division.

They found that out again on Saturday afternoon at Wrigley Field when the Cubs shut them out by a score of 1-0. You mean to tell me Chicago only scored one run? Who was pitching for Pittsburgh, Paul Skenes again or maybe his equally talented twin brother? No, Bailey Falter. That’s right, the guy who looked shaky in his very first start of the season on Easter Sunday but who has been pretty damn solid ever since. Falter pitched 7 and two-thirds innings on Saturday and shut out the Cubs while allowing three hits and walking two batters. Falter didn’t even have a lot of strikeouts–only two. I mean, what’s that about?

Turns out, the Cubs have their own Paul Skenes, and his name is Shota Imanaga, a 30-year-old import from Japan who is a prime candidate for National League Rookie of the Year. Imanaga has now started nine games in 2024 and has struck out 58 batters in 53.2 innings. He’s only given up five earned runs and has an ERA of 0.84.

Imanago limited the Bucco batters to four hits and zero runs in seven innings on Saturday.

The Pirates lost the game on a controversial call in the bottom of the ninth inning when Cody Bellinger scored on a Christopher Morel single to center field. Catcher Joey Bart appeared to tag out Bellinger after receiving the throw from centerfielder Michael A. Taylor, but Bellinger inadvertenly knocked the ball out of Bart’s throwing hand when the latter was trying to show it to the ump. Was that why Bellinger was called safe? Did he slide in under the tag? Either way, the Buccos went back to their hotel losers for the first time in this four-game weekend series.

David Bednar took the loss, a development that will no doubt cause the fans and media to continue to question just what is up with one of the game’s best closers over the past two years. No, it hasn’t been the best season for Bednar, but some pitcher was eventually going to be pinned with the loss on Saturday.

Did you have any confidence that the offense would ever get going, even in extra innings, when each team starts a frame with a runner at second base?

Fact is, the Pirates offense has been putrid in 2024. Let’s run down some of the numbers, shall we?

Pittsburgh’s batters have struck out the fourth-most times in baseball with 442. The Pirates are hitting .225 as a team, which is good enough (or bad enough) for 26th out of 30 franchises. Pittsburgh has scored 177 runs, which puts them at 24 out of 30 clubs.

I don’t want to continue talking about the offense because I sound like a broken record, but it’s not good. If it doesn’t improve, you could throw five Paul Skenes out there every week, and the Pirates will still struggle to win games.

The end.


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