I don’t have a lot to say about how yesterday’s game ended. I think it’s unfathomable that the play that the game ended on wasn’t called runner interference. The rule as written prevents the runner from “intentionally” interfering with the double play turn, but given that intent is impossible to determine, you’ll almost always see “did the runner get hit with a throw that was above standard waist-height?” substituted for intent. Jayson Nix made a normal turn and a normal throw to first, and Nick Ahmed’s left arm was extended way up and hit the throw. That’s interference, and I feel like it’s called as such if it happens at any point other than in the bottom of the tenth inning on a Sunday evening. That makes it a lousy way to lose a baseball game.
Of course, yesterday’s big news was Andrew McCutchen leaving the game with a strained side in the seventh inning. I don’t need to tell you that if he’s got an oblique injury that causes him to miss time, this team is in trouble given the schedule ahead of them beyond the first six games of this homestand. McCutchen seemed to be just starting to break out of a slump, and it’s not a coincidence that the Pirates couldn’t do anything against a succession of bad starting pitchers while he’s struggled at the plate. It’s nice when Josh Harrison or Jordy Mercer or whoever else is hitting, but nothing makes up for a struggling Andrew McCutchen. Hopefully this isn’t an issue, though he obviously looked like he was in a lot of pain yesterday.
All things considered, 5-5 on the road trip probably isn’t the worst result in the world. A win yesterday would’ve pulled the Pirates to within a half-game of first place, but a 1 1/2 game deficit is hardly a disaster. The Pirates have six games against the Marlins and Padres at PNC Park this week, and it’d be nice to see four or five wins. The Brewers play the Giants and the Dodgers, while the Cardinals play the Red Sox and Orioles, so four or five wins might be enough to get the Pirates past both teams and into first place. After that, there’s another one of the weird interleague home-and-home series with the Tigers, and then there’s the stretch that will make or break the season: three in DC against the Nats, three at home against the Braves, three in Milwaukee, three against the Cardinals at home, three against the Reds at home, and three in St. Louis. The Pirates need to position themselves as well as they can in the next ten games, because the 18 games following them are going to be huge.