The Pirates took another victory from the Brewers yesterday afternoon, defeating Milwaukee 8-4. Incredibly, this represents only their 2nd series victory in games played away from PNC Park, the other being their victory against the Giants June 8-11. This game was interesting because it saw the Pirates exorcise some of the demons that had been plaguing them this year. In his wrap of yesterday’s game, Pirates reporter Ed Eagle notes the following difficulties the Pirates have had this year, all of which applied to yesterday’s game:
A 7-27 record in day games.
A 6-28 mark in games when an opponent starts a left-handed pitcher.
A 1-9 record in series-deciding finales.
A 12-40 overall mark on the road.
Generally, when this type of data is presented by sports writers, there is some implication that these past performances have predictive power for the future. To take an example from above, the implication is that the Pirates are predisposed to losing in, say, a series-deciding finale. While there may be some causal behavior at work with the above set of data, I believe that most of it is coincidental. While the Pirates may have some difficulty hitting against lefties, there is no way that that alone can account for such a terrible record against lefties. Generally speaking, teams perform better at home, so I’m inclined to believe that the Pirates’ road struggles may be real, though, again, not to the extent that their record would indicate. However, I do not believe that there is anything real in their record in series-deciding finales or day games. It would be interesting to look at the ERA of the pitchers they faced in these games. It could be that they just had bad luck going up against dominant pitchers in these games. Or, their own pitcher could have melted down in these situations. Coming up with an explanation for this behavior will take more work than I can devote to it this morning, but I’ll be on vacation (in Pittsburgh!) next week, so maybe I’ll take a look at these trends then. Stay tuned.