The Pittsburgh Pirates did win the season series against the Chicago Cubs, but the final series, in Wrigley Field, left a bad taste in the mouth, losing two out of three on the road.

Actually, the Chicago Cubs are one of two teams that the Bucs have beaten (5-4) on the road this season. The other one is the Colorado Rockies (2-1). (Although they barely managed a 2-2 tie in PNC Park.)

A sorry road record is the main reason Pittsburgh’s overall record is the worst in the majors. Their home record is better than that of the Chicago Cubs, the Cleveland Indians, and the Baltimore Orioles.

The Pirates are 14-53 on the road with 14 more games to go. That winning percentage is barely above .200. The team that they are now competing for in the “race to the bottom” in road games is the 1962 New York Mets, the all-time worst team who won all of 17 games away from home.

It didn’t get off to such a bad start. The first two months, the Bucs won five road games in April and four in May.

The April wins featured two road game victories against the Milwaukee Brewers, which represented a (relative) high for the Pirates. They also included one win each against three western division teams away from home. In May, Bucs feasted on the Cubs and won one each on the road from the now-contending Cincinnati Reds and Philadelphia Phillies.

But then the Pirates had a horrible June, 6-26 overall, which meant only two road wins (against the Cubs). Four out of five American League opponents swept the Bucs 3-0 during Interleague Play, with the Detroit Tigers, Texas Rangers, and Oakland As doing so in their home parks.

Since June 30th, the Pirates have won only the two games against the Rockies, and one against the Cubs, outside of PNC Park.

They’ve been blanked on the road by the division leading San Diego Padres and Atlanta Braves, as well as the relatively weak Washington Nationals, and the Houston Astros in their own division. (We haven’t closed the books on the road seasons against the St. Louis Cardinals, Florida Marlins, or New York Mets.)

The weakness on the road is a testament to the inexperience of the team, among the youngest in the majors. The home record (and other factors such as the dominance of the Cubs) suggests the team’s raw talent is NOT league worst. But it is rookies who will play the worst on the road relative to their overall ability.

Pirates that fall into this category are heralded call ups like Pedro Alvarez, Neil Walker, and Jose Tabata. Andy McCutchen and Garett Jones are barely out of this category. Among everyday position players, only Ronny Cedeno, Ryan Doumit, and Lastings Milledge can be considered even close to “veteran.”

This team is better than the 1962 Mets. But it seems to play like them away from home because they are relatively new players for which all the veterans have been traded.

Some call it “trading up.” Others call it rebuilding. Overall, the Pirates have a cyclically weak team on the field—even for them—one headed for a 100-110 loss season. Let’s hope that 2010 represents the low point of their record.


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