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2009 Pittsburgh Pirates: Recent Series (Probably) Told a Tale

Tom AuSenior Analyst IIApril 29, 2009

BRADENTON, FL - FEBRUARY 22: Ian Snell #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses during photo day at the Pirates spring training complex on February 22, 2009 in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images)

The Pittsburgh Pirates just finished a series against the Milwaukee Brewers, 0-3. Although they are unlikely to lose every season series, or suffer a sweep in every series loss, the story that was told was not a pretty one. Based on the grid that I posited the other day, the Pirates will not be even a .500 team this year. The series loss by itself drops them to 11-10.

The hitting was spotty—only 10 runs in three games. The pitching was worse: 17 runs in those three games. Still, the Pirates could have won two out of three games with those raw scores: 1-10, 7-6, 2-1. (To get these hypothetical scores, I subtracted four runs from the first game, and added two apiece to the second and third.) But they didn't, losing two one-run games.

The sole bright spot was the last game. "Snakebit" Snell pitched well. But Y. Gallardo pitched even better, a no-run two-hit eight innings, and hit a solo home run for the only score on either side.

What's clear is that the Milwaukee Brewers "own" the Pirates, at least for now. And their likely dominance in the season series basically kills whatever chance the Pirates have of contending.

Suppose, for instance, that the Pirates are basically contenders, apart from their Milwaukee "jinx." Then they might be .600 or better against the "rest of baseball" (ROB). This might be reflected in a tally of 88-58 in "non-Milwaukee" games. But if they go 1-15 in the season series, the final tally would be 89-73, probably not enough to win the division championship or a wildcard slot.

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Can the Pirates go .500 for the season? If they're 1-15 against Milwaukee, they would have to be 80-66 against ROB, a .548 percentage. That's possible, but not probable. Last year, they were only 62-64 against non Milwaukee AND non Chicago teams.

More likely, they appear to be slight winners this year, say, 75-71, against teams other than Milwaukee. Adding the one or two wins that they figure to garner against Milwaukee gives them 76 or 77 wins for the year, closer to .500 than before, but with no cigar.

It's barely possible that this series is irrelevant, and the Pirates finish something like 9-7 in the season series. That would require a 9-4 showing in the remaining 13 games, with the three "random" losses already booked. Such a showing against an otherwise low-ranking team would be consistent with an 88-58 record against ROB for a total record of 97-65, which would be of championship caliber. But it is the least likely scenario.