Homestand turns into disappointment
PITTSBURGH – The Pirates finished a 2-8 homestand Sunday afternoon quietly, falling 8-0 to the Cincinnati Reds.
So much for making up ground at home.
It’s been that kind of a season, a year in which very little has gone right. So it’s not that big a shock that the team managed a .200 winning percentage playing against a couple of “easy” teams at home.
The Pirates were 1-5 on their previous homestand.
“I’m really a black and white kind of guy,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “I go back to meeting the demands of the game. When you don’t meet the demands of the game, it doesn’t matter if you’re on the road, in your back yard or you’re across the street.
“We have had very good success at home. But that doesn’t mean you’re just going to have success at home. You have to earn it. It takes all three parts of the game. You get that good start, the bullpen, you play defense and you find some offense.
“That really hasn’t shown up with any consistency here in the homestand. The last two times.”
Ryan Vogelsong wasn’t very good on Sunday, and he was betrayed by his defense. Both Josh Bell and Andrew McCutchen misplayed hits into extra bases, and the Reds soon had a 5-0 lead.
The bullpen had to cover five innings, which were divided between Tyler Glasnow (three) and Jared Hughes (two).
Hurdle basically ran up the white flag early, allowing Vogelsong to bat even though the rosters are expanded for the last month. He substituted freely, putting bench players like Alen Hanson and Pedro Florimon into the game.
“There comes a point in time, you’re looking at chasing a 7-0 shadow,” he said. “Get them out, get them unplugged, get them plugged back in tomorrow and go from there. Start fresh.”
Although he gave up on Sunday’s game, Hurdle said he is not surrendering the last 21 games of the season. The Pirates open a four-game series in Philadelphia tonight.
Is this the time to flood the lineup with young players to start preparing for next season?
“Not yet,” Hurdle said. “Not for me.”
Josh Harrison sat out with the groin injury he sustained while running out a double in Saturday’s game.
The Pirates had no solid information on Harrison, other than general manager Neal Huntington’s assertion that the injury is “more than day to day.”
Starling Marte missed his sixth consecutive game with back spasms. There is no word on when he might return.
Pitchers Neftali Feliz and A.J. Schugel remain out with arm soreness.
“If it takes a few extra days, it takes a few extra days,” Huntington said.
Because of the September roster expansion, there are no potential disabled list issues.
Plate umpire Pat Hoeberg ejected Gregory Polanco for arguing a third strike call to end the third inning.
“He said he asked him to leave four times,” Hurdle said. “You can’t argue balls and strikes. Gregory knows enough English now to argue. It got to the point where Pat said he’d had enough.”
Hurdle mildly chided Hoeberg, a rookie umpire, for not walking away from the plate and Polanco as the inning ended.
“You walk away, the player has two options,” Hurdle said. “He goes back to the dugout, and we’re done. Or he goes after him and he’s going to get tossed and everyone knows it. I’ve thrown that out there a few times and nobody seems to have picked up on it yet.”
Back in there
Glasnow pitched in a major league game for the first time since he left a July 23 start with shoulder soreness.
He pitched three innings, allowing two runs on five hits with a walk and three strikeouts. Glasnow threw 58 pitches.
“It’s nice getting out there and pitching again,” Glasnow said. “I haven’t done that in a while.”
On the road
After Philadelphia, the Pirates are in Cincinnati (four games) and Milwaukee (three games) before they return for the season’s final homestand.
Mehno can be reached at email@example.com