As I wrote on Friday afternoon, I spent my whole weekend back in Western Pennsylvania with a full slate of events. As a result, I only watched the Pirates and Brewers peripherally. On Friday, I sat in Midway with about an hour's layover before my flight to Pittsburgh that coincided with the start of the Pirates' game. The Brewers batted nearly the whole time I was in the airport. On Saturday, I spent approximately 15 minutes in a bar in Station Square, waiting for a friend's bachelor party to start; in that time I watched Pedro Alvarez bat with the bases loaded, foul off pitch after pitch, then strike out looking in the sixth inning of a 1-1 game. On Sunday, my cousin got married back. Since the wedding wasn't until 4 PM, a bunch of my family gathered at my parent's house and we watched the start of the Pirates' game. That meant we watched James McDonald home run derby before leaving for the wedding.
As happens when I come home for things like bachelor parties and weddings, I spent a bunch of time talking about the Pirates. With the team falling apart as usual in Milwaukee, people kept asking if I thought the Pirates still had a chance to make the playoffs. I kept repeating the same refrain: "The Cardinals aren't playing well against the Nationals; what the Pirates really need to do is rack up some wins against the Astros and Cubs next week." When I planned my flights for this weekend, I didn't book a return flight until this afternoon because I wanted to get to PNC on Labor Day. I was still hopeful that the Astros would rejuvenate the Pirates' season.
You can probably imagine that by yesterday afternoon at 1:35, I was running on pretty close to empty after a full weekend of festivities with family and friends that I just don't get to spend that much time with these days. The Pirate team that I watched yesterday played like I felt. The lineup the Astros trotted out on the field yesterday was a pathetic group of baseball players, but Jeff Locke couldn't get any of the 'Stros first three hitters out to save his life, and that resulted in a 5-0 lead after 4 1/2 innings. Think about that; on just the strength of Jose Altuve, Tyler Greene, and Brett Wallace, the Astros scored five runs. Locke was otherwise solid, but then he's been pretty solid at Triple-A all year and that's all the last six hitters in the Astros' lineup are right now, so I don't know why we'd expect anything else.
It didn't matter, though, because the Pirates never got anything going against 29-year old journeyman Edgar Gonzalez (released by the pitching-poor Rockies in July), who made his Astro debut yesterday. They did even worse against Mickey Storey and Wesley Wright in the last 3 2/3 innings. It was pretty brutal to watch in person.
What else is really left to say? It sure seems like the Pirates used whatever was left in the tank to take two wins from St. Louis in one last, desperate playoff gasp. It shouldn't require much to beat the Astros, but the Pirates were flat-out beaten by them yesterday without ever really even being in the game. The Pirates might have it in them to claw back into this playoff race one more time (now they're 2 1/2 behind St. Louis), but at this point it's really hard to see how that's going to happen.