Friday, April 10, 2015


The Pirates have made the postseason 16 times. Here's how they did in their first three games in each season:

  • 1903: 3-0
  • 1909: 1-2 (won first game, then dropped three straight, all to Cincinnati)
  • 1925: 1-2 (eventually slipped to 1-6)
  • 1927: 3-0
  • 1960: 1-2
  • 1970: 1-2
  • 1971: 3-0
  • 1972: 1-2
  • 1974: 0-3 (ultimately 0-6)
  • 1975: 3-0
  • 1979: 1-2 (eventually 1-5)
  • 1990: 2-1
  • 1991: 2-1
  • 1992: 2-1
  • 2013: 1-2 (eventually 1-5)
  • 2014: 2-1
So yeah. They've never opened a season 0-3, as they have in 2015, and gone on to win the World Series. (They got bounced in the NLCS in 1974 after starting 0-3, three games to one). But there is certainly precedence for a slow start by a successful team, including three of the five teams that won the World Series (1909, 1925, and 1979). So don't freak out. Yet.

Next Up: Milwaukee Brewers

Well, at least somebody will win! Both teams enter the three-game series in Milwaukee 0-3. At least one team will exit it with victories. Nobody will notice, though, since the Red Sox are playing the Yankees in the Bronx this weekend, so we know where the national media will be solely focused.

They're both 0-3, but the Brewers enter the series in worse shape. The Reds outscored the Pirates 13-8, and every game but the first of the series was a one-run game. The Brewers were swept by the Rockies in Milwaukee, 10-0, 5-2, and 5-4. The Pirates are ninth in scoring, the Brewers tenth. The Brewers have a slight lead in on base percentage, .278-.276, while the Pirates head in slugging percentage, .308-.290. (If those numbers seem bad, it's because they are, though early April batting stats are depressed by cool weather and a preponderance of aces getting pitching starts.) The Pirates' team ERA of 4.00 is fifth in the league; the Brewers' 6.11 is last. Pittsburgh's starters have been a lot better (3.63 ERA vs. 8.22 for the Brewers) while the Brewers relievers, with a 3.55 ERA, have done better than the Pirates bullpen, which has accounted for a 4.66 ERA (last in the league) and all three of the team's losses. The Pirates haven't been good, of course, but they've been a smidge better than Milwaukee.

Plus, one of the Brewers' best hitters, Ryan Braun, strained a muscle in his side on Monday and didn't start either of the last two games, though he did deliver a pinch-hit RBI single Thursday. 

When Braun's in the lineup, the Brewers feature an almost entirely right-handed hitting lineup (first baseman Adam Lind's the lone lefty). However, the Pirates expect to start lefties Jeff Locke on Friday and Francisco Liriano Sunday, negating the potential platoon advantage. The expected Brewers starters are righties Mike Fiers (6-5 with a sparkling 2.13 ERA and 76 strikeouts in 71.2 innings last year), Jimmy Nelson (2-9 with a 4.93 ERA in 69.1 innings last year), and veteran Kyle Lohse (who surrendered 10 hits and 8 runs in 3.1 innings Monday, striking out only one). 

Look for the Pirates to get on track against the Brew Crew.

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