Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Pirates’ First Quarter Record Defies Logic if Not Description

The 21-19 record the Bucs took to San Diego doesn’t add up given all they’ve had to overcome. Perhaps there’s more to this team than meets the eye.


A post shared by Pittsburgh Pirates (@pittsburghpirates) on

Based on preseason projections and the manner in which the first 40 games have played out, the Pirates should be buried by now.

Instead, they arrived in San Diego for the final series of an 11-game road trip with their heads still above water.

The 21-19 record the Bucs somehow managed to amass through the season’s unofficial first quarter wasn’t enough to inspire the planning of a parade.

Still, it’s almost miraculous given some of the particulars the Pirates have had to endure.

Those included:

  • The guy who was supposed to be the horse of a dominating starting rotation, Jameson Taillon, winning two games and posting a 4.10 ERA before landing on the 60-day injured list.
  • A guy who was supposed to contribute significantly to that starting rotation’s perceived dominance, Chris Archer, winning once and registering a 5.58 ERA around a stint on the 10-day injured list.
  • The guy who would hopefully re-emerge as the starting third baseman and one of the primary sources of power on a team that figured to be challenged in that capacity, Jung Ho Kang, hit .133 and struck out 31 times in 90 at-bats before being placed on the 10-day injured list.
  • The guy who was acquired to become the starting shortstop, Erik Gonzalez, had as many errors as extra-base hits (three each) in 16 appearances before a trip to the 60-day injured list.
  • The guy who was supposed to be the starting left fielder and one of the veteran leaders, Corey Dickerson, played four games before ending up on the 10-day disabled list. When the Pirates departed Arizona for San Diego on Wednesday, Dickerson was still there.
  • The guy who was brought aboard to help compensate for Gregory Polanco’s delayed return from shoulder surgery, Lonnie Chisenhall, made zero appearances.
  • And the bullpen, another perceived area of strength along with the starting rotation, seemingly proved as likely to pour gasoline on the fire as extinguish the flames.

All of the above could have/should have been enough to sink the ship.

Instead, the Bucs have kept just enough cannonballs coming to stay relevant.

Josh Bell has had everything to do with that.

The Pirates were hoping he’d regain his power stroke entering the season. They weren’t counting on him becoming “Kiner-esque” or “Stargell-ian,” but Bell has been both. ​

Melky Cabrera and Jordan Lyles have also been veteran saviors.

Cole Tucker, despite residing below the Mendoza Line at the plate, and Bryan Reynolds have been rookie revelations.

And for all the leads they’ve blown after six innings, the Pirates have been almost as likely to rally when the sixth-inning tables have been turned.

That’s how you get to 21-19 despite being outscored by a combined 47 runs through 40 games.

Yet the Pirates’ story so far includes the intangible as well as the improbable.

That was apparent –– again –– on Tuesday night in Phoenix.

The latest example was the reaction in the dugout to Tucker’s home town home run.

Upon being greeted by gleeful teammates, Tucker was captured by AT&T Sportsnet’s microphones and cameras saying, among other things, “I love you” to Dickerson.

“Dude, he’s been helping me so much, just keeping me on track, and just teaching me about, really trying to teach me what I need to be doing with my swing and my thoughts, my approach,” Tucker explained afterward to AT&T Sportsnet’s Robby Incmikoski. “We’ve just been talking, chatting it up and watching video.

“He’s a veteran who’s seen everything that I’m ever going to see in my career. For me to know that a guy like that has my back day in and day out means the world. Like, I love that guy, he’s awesome. I can’t wait for him to be back.”

Dickerson hadn’t played since April 3 but not only was he there, anyway, he’s apparently been there all along for a kid who wouldn’t even be in the big leagues had it not been for Gonzalez’ injury.

That’s the type of stuff you’d expect to see from a group of relatively nondescript individuals that’s in the process of becoming a team.

Or, perhaps, one that already has.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit Module Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

The 400-Word Review: The Lion King

Despite a great voice cast, the new version of "The Lion King" was a bad idea from the start.

Why These 6 Days in 1969 Were So Important to Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh Magazine is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, but we're not the only ones. We take a look at six notable events from 1969.

Women in Power: The Pros Changing Allegheny County

Allegheny County breaks the old boys’ club by placing women in key positions.

Growing Together: Farmers and Chefs Elevate Pittsburgh Dining

These seven farmer/chef pairings are leading the charge toward more vital vegetable dishes.

Afraid to Go to the Dentist? Consider the Sedation Solution

For some patients, dental work wouldn’t be possible if they were fully alert.

Restaurant Review: Spirits & Tales at the Oaklander Hotel

Executive chef Jessica Lewis’ strong voice is undermined by inconsistencies throughout the restaurant.

Perspectives: A Big Life

A former newspaper reporter's assignment leads to a lifelong friendship with a man who battled a food addiction.

George S. Kaufman’s Sensational Scandal

The Pittsburgh-born playwright made tabloid headlines in the 1930s. (it didn’t slow him down a bit.)

You Can Ride a Roller Coaster Classic

Roller coaster history is hidden nearby — and not where you might think.

Tea, Cake and Death: A Safe Place to Discuss a Scary Subject

“Death Cafes” seek to reduce taboos around the act of dying.

How He Makes the Mundane Sound Magical

Experimental sound artist R. Weis creates otherworldly sonic compositions from everyday materials.

Uber’s New Service Puts Riders in the Driver’s Seat

Passengers in Pittsburgh now can pay for a most customized experience with Uber Comfort.

The 400-Word Review: Secret Obsession

Netflix is on a bit of a hot streak with its original thrillers. Unfortunately, this dud isn't part of it.

After Dark Hall of Fame: Primanti Bros.

The beloved bar-and-restaurant chain has become a Pittsburgh emblem. It's the 10th inductee in the After Dark Hall of Fame.

Do You Want to Pay More Taxes to Improve Parks?

The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy hopes to restore the city’s parks to their former glory, but they may need a tax increase to do so.