I knew it would happen eventually. Last week, after the Pirates' fourth straight victory, my uncle and I were talking online, and he said, "Man, they just keep winning and winning." Even though Pittsburgh won the next day, I just knew a slide was coming in the very near-future.
Sure enough, the Rockies came along to prove my suspicions.
The Pirates traveled to Colorado this weekend to take on a Rockies' team that was below .500 and well out of the wild-card discussions. Unfortunately, they still have a lot of fight in them (at least over the weekend) and swept Pittsburgh in three straight games, with each loss being more frustrating than the last.
Friday night, behind Cy Young candidate Francisco Liriano, the Pirates were pounded, 10-1, and utility man Josh Harrison was brought in to pitch in the bottom of the eighth inning.
Saturday night, behind ace A.J. Burnett, the Pirates took a 3-1 lead in the top of the sixth inning but found themselves down 6-3 by the time they batted in the top of the seventh, eventually losing, 6-4.
Sunday afternoon's loss was the most frustrating. After jumping out to a 2-0 lead, behind Pedro Alvarez's 28th home run, Pittsburgh did nothing on offense the rest of the way. And after a critical error by Alvarez late in the game, the Pirates were trailing, 3-2, heading to the top of the ninth.
Neil Walker singled to start the inning, and after a strike out to Russell Martin, Tony Sanchez doubled to right-center. Walker was held at third, but the Pirates still had runners on second and third with one away.
But if you've been paying attention to the 2013 club, you'd know that its biggest Achilles heel is scoring runs, and the biggest symptom is a lack of production with runners in scoring position. In true form, Jordy Mercer lined out to third, and then Alex Presley ended things by weakly popping out to third.
It was a frustrating weekend, but the good news is the Pirates only lost a game in the standings to St. Louis, who lost two of three to the Cubs over the weekend.
The Diamondbacks, the only real threat right now to Pittsburgh's chances of making the playoffs, lost two of three to the Mets and are still 10 1/2 games back for the second wild card.
So, are Pirates fans beginning to panic? I'm sure they are. But I'm sure they were also panicking after the six of eight slide just before the All-Star break and the three of four slide in the days leading up to the epic five game series against the Cardinals.
Two weeks ago, the Pirates won their fourth straight game to improve to 23 games over .500--the first time they were that many games over .500 at that point in the summer since 1972. This weekend, Pittsburgh dropped three games to fall back to 23 above .500.
I think the Pirates will be fine.