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Pirates lose 7th straight, possibly all wild card hope

Tuesday’s Say Hey, Baseball sees the Pirates sinking their hopes, Zack Greinke’s poor return to Los Angeles, and the Giants’ inability to score in the ninth inning.

St Louis Cardinals v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

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The Pirates haven’t been the force that they’ve managed to be over the last three years, but they’ve kept close to the playoff race nearly all season long. As recently as Aug. 28, they were just half a game back of the second wild card spot in the NL, sporting a record of 67-61. It wasn’t perfect, but the Marlins were without Giancarlo Stanton, the Mets were hovering around .500, and the Giants were wrapping up a month that saw them drop from the top of the NL West and back into the wild card discussion. On Monday night, the Pirates were handed their seventh defeat in a row, falling under .500 and 4.5 games back of a wild card spot in the process.

Now, 4.5 back isn’t automatically the end of the Bucs’ campaign and playoff hopes, but there is less than a month of 2016’s regular season to go, the Mets have hopped in line in front of them, and Pittsburgh’s schedule the rest of the way isn’t looking great for them. They have two more against the Cardinals in their current series, and another three games against St. Louis to close out 2016. In between, they’ll take on the NL East-leading Nationals for three and baseball’s best, the Cubs, for four. The Pirates are going to have to crush the Reds, Brewers, and Phillies in their 15 games remaining against these sub-.500 rebuilding teams, or else, Pittsburgh’s organizational record for consecutive playoff appearances will have to remain at three.

The Pirates’ current playoff odds sit at 8 percent, while the Cardinals are at 58 percent. Pittsburgh wasn’t in the best position in the world seven losses ago, either, but their 31 percent odds on Aug. 28 were far preferable to their current state. Eight percent is still a chance — these are probabilities, after all — but it’s not a great one. Many things have gone wrong for the Pirates in 2016, and still they managed to hold on until the last week. There’s yet time to turn things around, but it has to start on Tuesday, as the Pirates can’t afford to lose much more from here on out.