PITTSBURGH — Ever since the calendar flipped the May, the Pittsburgh Pirates have looked like a completely different team than they did in April.
Pittsburgh ended April with a sparkling 20-9 record and they were just about firing on all cylinders.
Following their 10-1 blowout loss to the Colorado Rockies at PNC Park on Tuesday night, the Pirates fell to 1-7 through their first eight contests of the current month.
A big reason for their struggles? They have been unable to hit with runners in scoring position.
Entering play on Tuesday, the Pirates were just 4 for 41 (.098 average) with runners in scoring position. They haven’t had multiple hits when batting with RISP since their final game in the month of April, when they went 2 for 7 against the Washington Nationals in D.C.
Andrew McCutchen delivered an RBI-single with Ke’Bryan Hayes on second base in the third inning on Tuesday, but that was the lone hit in those situations. The Pirates finished the game 1 for 7 with RISP.
“I mean, we need to, and this sounds really elementary, but we need a hit. We need that hit to break it open. Again, we had opportunities again tonight and just did not execute. It’s something that we’re focusing on, talking about, but we need a couple balls to get in the outfield grass that kind of relieves that pressure a little bit,” manager Derek Shelton said.
Before things got out of hand, the Pirates had a couple of opportunities to break through with a couple of runs, but they were unable to do so.
The Pirates had two runners on with nobody out, and two in scoring position with one out in the second, but failed to produce even a run. In the fifth, the Pirates had the bases loaded with two outs for cleanup hitter Carlos Santana, who popped out to shallow left.
The Pirates have failed to score at least three runs in any game this month. When the offense is scuffling as much as they have been, hitters tend to press a little bit more than usual.
“Yeah, I think it’s natural when you’re not scoring runs to put pressure on yourself to try to do a little bit too much,” said Shelton.
If the Pirates want to snap out of their funk and remain in first place in the division, they will need to capitalize on the opportunities they are given.
If they do not do so, things could get even uglier down on the North Shore.