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Tuesday, May 6, 2014
Big week for Pirates begins with bad loss

By David Schoenfield

During Monday's Power Rankings video chat, Eric Karabell mentioned that this would be an important week for the Pirates as they entered the week at 12-19 with two big series at home against the Giants and Cardinals. That's a tough week and it's followed by a road trip to Milwaukee and New York to face the Yankees and then six home games against the Orioles and Nationals.

This stretch got off to brutal start on Monday with an 11-10 loss to the Giants in a game that ended at 12:36 a.m. local time, featured ducks on the field, two pitchers pinch-hitting, two replay challenges and an umpire getting hit by a throw. The Pirates had an 8-2 lead after five innings. The Giants scored five in the sixth as Jeff Locke and Bryan Morris couldn't stop the damage. The Giants tied it the seventh but the Pirates re-took the lead, only to see the Giants tie it again with a run off Mark Melancon in the ninth. At that point, it seemed inevitable that the Giants would eventually pull it out and they did, scoring in the 13th when the Giants, out of position players, had to let reliever Jean Machi bat with two on and one out. Jared Hughes threw away Machi's bunt for an error and Hunter Pence scored from second. The Giants' rally that inning: Walk, hit by pitch, throwing error. Ouch.

Needless to say, it's not surprising that the Pirates didn't blow any six-run leads last year. Here's a stat that shows how well the Pirates played when they grabbed an early lead in 2013: They were 64-9 when leading entering the sixth inning; this year, they're just 6-6. Pirates starters are last in the majors in FanGraphs' WAR. The magic and good karma of 2013 is quickly fading and they're already 9.5 games behind the Brewers. It's going to be a tough climb back.

Other thoughts on Monday's wild night of action: