It took a little longer this year, but it appears these are the same old Pittsburgh Pirates.
Flailing and running on fumes as they desperately try to stay in the wild-card race, the visiting Pirates' last stand could start Friday night against the Houston Astros.
It wasn't expected to be this way for Pittsburgh as it made its way to the top half of the NL Central for a second straight year. The Pirates were 16 games over .500 on Aug. 8, in contention for the division lead and in control of the second wild-card spot as the memories of last year's fade to a 90-loss season seemed buried.
Like deja vu all over again, though, the bottom has fallen out - but this time in swift, stunning and staggering fashion.
Pittsburgh has lost 28 of 39 since that high-water mark, capped by a three-game sweep at home at the hands of Milwaukee. Thursday's 9-7 loss dropped the Pirates 5 1/2 games behind St. Louis for the second wild-card spot, a seemingly insurmountable deficit with 13...