Originally written on Raise the Jolly Roger!  |  Last updated 11/4/14

The Pirates lost again. It sucked.

A.J. Burnett pitched well. He was in the zone early on and ended up striking out eight over six solid innings. The Reds scratched out two runs off him – both started with the leadoff man reaching second, then taking third on a productive out, then scoring on a productive out. Imagine that.

The Pirates struggled against Homer Bailey for the most part, but got three straight singles from Andrew McCutchen, Garrett Jones, and Gaby Sanchez to tie the game in the fourth. They couldn’t cash in any more on the inning, though, which would cost them later. It was a disappointing night on the whole for the offense, which is now missing Pedro Alvarez (wrist injury) for the time being along with Neil Walker. Ugh.

The play everyone’s talking about happened in the sixth. Alex Presley tripled down the RF line with one out, putting the Bucs in prime position to take a 2-1 lead. Unfortunately, Clint Barmes was up. As he strolled up to the plate, I was thinking, “they might try and squeeze him here.” The Reds had the same thought. After one pitch, Nick Leyva VISIBLY WENT OVER TO PRESLEY AND WHISPERED TO RUN, then Presley charged to the plate as the pitch came in. The Reds had caught on and threw a designed pitch-out. It wasn’t a great pitch out and Barmes had a chance to get the bat on it with a desperate lunge, but he still missed. Presley was tagged out at home.

There was plenty of outrage at Clint Hurdle for this, as there should be. Honestly, it seemed like a pretty ideal situation to go for the squeeze (1 out, terrible hitter but a decent bunter up), but it was just SO predictable – and that’s what blew the play up. Sure Barmes missed, but you can’t be expected to bunt a pitch in the opposite batter’s box. Clint’s not the guy you want up in that situation, but there’s still a pretty decent chance he could muster a fly ball or single with a speedster on third.

Predictably, the Reds took the lead in the bottom of the inning after properly taking advantage of a leadoff double (they got a sac fly with a guy on 3rd and 1 out, funny how that works). The Cincy bullpen (despite being very depleted) shut down the Bucs with ease and the only remaining exciting moment of the game was when Jared Hughes faced Brandon Phillips (nothing happened, and Phillips hit a weak infield single).

Somehow, the Cardinals lost AGAIN and the Pirates are still in the midst of the wild card logjam. They really weren’t outplayed that much this week on the road against a good Reds team (the Pirates outhit them in all three games) but made a few costly mistakes that did them in. The Bucs have been getting help, but it’s not going to last much longer and they’ll be out of this by the end of the weekend if they don’t snap out of this. I think they’re close to doing so, but it’s getting late.

The loss marks six in a row and means the Bucs will need to play .500 (10-10) or better the rest of the way to finish with a winning record.

Reds 2, Pirates 1 / Box / 2012 Record: 72-70 / Next: Friday, at Cubs, 2:20

MVP: Hughes (+.045) / LVP: Presley (-.129) / Key play: Failed squeeze

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