The Pirates and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad game

Hey, everybody makes mistakes.

In baseball, too. Sometimes they’re physical and sometimes they’re mental. But it’s rare that they’re so obiously awful as they were Tuesday night for the Pirates against the Royals.

Through seven innings, All-Star Gerrit Cole was cruising, with a shutout going. But the Pirates hadn’t scored, either, even though Kansas City starter Jason Vargas had exited early with an injury.

With one out in the eighth, everything fell apart for the Pirates. First, second baseman Neil Walker let a routine grounder sneak through his legs. Alex Rios shot a single to center field, and Andrew McCutchen uncorked a wild throw that allowed Rios to move to second. Finally, Gregory Polanco bobbled Jarrod Dyson’s bloop single; this allowed Dyson to move to second while the other two runners were scoring. And Dyson wound up scoring, too.

Fast-forward to the top of the ninth, still 3-0 Royals. As usual, Greg Holland’s on for the save. Pirates are dead, right? Probably!

But Starling Marte leads off with a single, and then Jung Ho Kang smokes a liner over Lorenzo Cain in center field. Hey, this might be something! Runners on second and third with nobody out!

Except, unaccountably and terribly and horribly and not so very good at all, third-base coach Rick Sofield waved Marte home. Where he was met with Alcides Escobar’s perfect relay throw to Salvador Perez. And instead of having runners at second and third with nobody out, they had a runner at second with one out.

The rest of the inning included a couple of singles and a walk … but just one run, and the Pirates had lost a tough one.

I couldn’t find a quote from Sofield after the game, which leaves one to wonder: If you’re not going to get that quote, then what is the point of quotes at all? Because it’s incredibly hard to imagine what he might possibly have been thinking, or even reacting to without thinking, when he waved Marte around. Since, you know, there was practically zero advantage to having him score instead of hugging third.

Again, people make mistakes. And the good news is that the Pirates are still a fine bet to make the playoffs. But they’ve been down the wild-card road before, and it’s not been a good road. They’ve got a shot at actually winning the division, but they can’t have many more games like Tuesday night’s. Which means slightly fewer obvious, game-losing mistakes.