This weekend went about as badly for the Pirates as you would've dared to believe that it could on Friday. Not only did the Pirates lose three times, but they got blown off of the field three times in the sort of fashion that leaves you turning the Sunday game off in the second inning when you it's 5-0 and Charlie Morton is leaving the game with some kind of injury, and telling the trainer that, "I felt it pop."
The "it" in that sentence turned out to be Morton's foot and not his surgically repaired elbow, which might end up being the best news that the Pirates get out of this lost weekend in St. Louis. I'll reserve judgment on that for now; Morton is probably already back in Pittsburgh to be examined by doctors (the Pirates will be home on Thursday, so he doesn't need to be in Texas with the team anyway) and feet are rather important to pitchers. If he did any sort of actual damage to a bone or ligament in his foot, well, he wouldn't have to be out long to be out for the rest of the season.
Morton aside, Sunday's game was just an extenuation of Friday and Saturday. The Cardinals hit the ball and moved around the bases often, while the Pirates did not. There's not much else to say at this point. The Cardinals swept the Pirates, the Reds swept the Dodgers, and five days after the Pirates had 81 wins and a two-game lead in the Central, they're 1 1/2 behind the Cardinals and tied with the Reds. The Bucs now go to Texas to face a Ranger team that needs wins as desperately as they do; the Rangers are 1 1/2 games behind the A's in the AL West and have a comfortable-but-not-quite-insurmountable five-game lead over the Orioles for the last wild card spot. The Cardinals and Reds, meanwhile, will be hosting the Brewers and Cubs this week. The Pirates' schedule softens up soon, too, with eight straight games against the Cubs and Padres after the Rangers series. The thing is, they have to get past the Rangers without dropping another three games in the standings for them to be able to take advantage of the easier schedule (and, of course, they may have to manage whatever comes beyond this series without Morton, which I suppose we can talk about when we get to it).
The baseball season is long and it's full of twists and turns. On Tuesday night, the Pirates had won five of six and seemed to be cruisng towards 82 and beyond, with a chance to put some distance between them and the Cardinals on the horizon. We've reached that horizon and it turns out that the Pirates are behind by more than a game. Let's hope that this season's got one more upswing for the Pirates left in it.