I suppose it was unreasonable to hope that the Pirates would win all 67 games that they played after the All-Star Break, so a game against Hyun-Jin Ryu seems like as good a place as any for the Bucs to take their first post-Break loss. Really, they were never in this game at all. Edinson Volquez did not have his sharpest stuff tonight, the ball took some bad hops for the Pirates, and it was 5-0 by the time the top of the fourth was over. Ryu isn’t going to blow many five-run leads, and he’s particularly not going to do it when Michael Martinez is in the starting lineup for the opponent, so while the Pirates mounted a bit of a comeback by scoring twice in the bottom of the fourth, they never really threatened to make the game interesting.
The one thing here that’s worth talking about is probably Volquez. It’s tempting to say that Volquez wasn’t quite as bad as his line suggests. The three-run fourth inning, in particular, featured an AJ Ellis single that could’ve been a fielder’s choice or a double play if it hadn’t bounced off of second base and a two-run “double” that sure looked an awful lot like an error by Josh Harrison on a hard-hit Justin Turner ground ball. The problem, of course, is that this is the exact sort of outing that his peripherals suggest that he invites almost every time out on the mound. His walk rate is better than in the past but not quite good, and his strikeout rate is low. He’s generally done a good job of pitching to the shift and a decent job of getting ground balls this year, but it’s just not quite good enough to completely eliminate the chances of games like this one. This is fine from a back-of-the-rotation guy, but the Pirates have been lacking a front-of-the-rotation guy all year, which increases the pressure on Volquez to be good every time out.
Anyway, even though I don’t want to spend a bunch of time getting worked up over this loss, it does put the Pirates in a pretty precarious place in this series. Josh Beckett is returning from the disabled list tomorrow night against Vance Worley, and the Pirates will ride the Francisco Liriano roller coaster on Wednesday. The Pirates have only lost two series at home since the beginning of May and they haven’t lost one in a month, but I feel like they’re in pretty serious danger of doing so against the Dodgers after this loss.