July 26, 2011: The night of one of the longest Pirates games in franchise history which ended in tragedy, frustration, robbery. (Technically the game ended on the 27th at 1:50 am.) You can call it whatever you like, but in the end it was the night the Pirate ship sank.
The Buccos record on July 25th was 53-47. One hundred games played, tied for first place in the division with the Cardinals, and, most importantly, six games over .500. They were on pace to pick up a well-deserved winning season. Today they are 65-77 with a winning percentage of .458. Basic math shows the Pirates have only 12 wins and 30 losses with a mere .285 winning percentage since July 26th.
How did we get here since the meltdown? Is there anything they could have done to avoid it? Looking back at our schedule during the collapse, I see 10 games were decided by extra innings or one run. Their results are a depressing one win and nine losses.
At a glance one might think this is expected, but of course I have to disprove the naysayers. The Pirates had 26 nail biters over the course of their first 100 games this season. They managed 15 wins and 11 losses, which seems like a respectable result to me.
Perhaps we could go back in time to the 26th of July and convince Hurdle to avoid a sacrifice bunt, which would result in a pitchout and eventually end the ninth inning. We could suggest the home plate umpire, Jerry Meals, have a sip of coffee before the 19th inning in case he had to make an important call. Maybe some positive momentum would have avoided a 10-game losing streak that followed soon after this devastating loss and this snowball effect of suck.
What would have happened if the Pirates won all their close games since July 25th? They could have swept the Braves in July, won a series against the Brewers, avoided being swept by the Cubs and Phillies, and reduced their longest losing streak of the season from 10 in July/August to six, which occurred in May. They could have accumulated 21 wins, 21 losses, and raised their current record to 74-68.
I can further analyze this new record in relation to yesterday’s topic, Pirates Possible Outcomes.
An epic winning streak would result in the best possible record for a thrilling season. This would have been their best record since 1992 when Barry Bonds roamed in left field. Though it still may not be enough to win the division against the Brewers, they definitely would have been in the race for the Wild Card. Imagine the irony if the season ended with the Pirates tied with the Braves. What a delicious way to end the regular season.
Losing streaks are not uncommon with our modern era Pirates, though I do find it mildly interesting that a tragic losing streak would result in a record one game better than my current prediction of 73-89.
My prediction in this scenario depresses me. When I compare the Pirates’ supposed winning percentage (.5211) to their opponents’ cumulative winning percentage (.5205) and take into consideration their season series records against each upcoming opponent, I reach this outcome.
One run could have spoiled this year’s opportunity of a winning season.