As the botched plays and bad losses and loud boos at PNC Park mounted in recent days, Clint Hurdle and the Pittsburgh Pirates stood firm in reciting a familiar refrain.
Over the course of a 162-game season, they rationalized, every club eventually endures a slump, a stretch of poor play, a losing streak.
“We know there’s no reason to panic,” outfielder Garrett Jones said, “because even the best teams have rough patches like this.”
But not one this costly this quickly in major league history.
Leading the National League Central on July 25, the Pirates lost the next day when plate umpire Jerry Meals admittedly made the wrong call in the 19th inning at Atlanta. And by Sunday night, Pittsburgh had lost 10 in a row and suddenly found itself trailing by 10 games.
Never before had a first-place team plunged 10 games back in a 13-day span, STATS LLC said.
“To go from in the hunt to out of the hunt in 10 games like this, it’s bad,” infielder Brandon Wood said after Sunday’s 7-3 loss to San Diego, finishing an 0-7 week at home.
It was the worst homestand in the125-year existence of the franchise.
A year after losing 105 games for their North American major professional sports record 18th consecutive losing season, these Pirates peaked at 51-44 and were at least five games over .500 in July for the first time since 1992.
Less than two weeks later, having acquired Derrek Lee and Ryan Ludwick to help for a possible playoff push, the Pirates were 54-59 and seemingly spiraling toward yet another sub-.500 campaign. They’d been outscored 82-37 during the 10-game skid and dropped 12 of 13 since peaking.
REYES, MURPHY OUT FOR METS
The New York Mets put star shortstop Jose Reyes on the disabled list with another hamstring problem and said infielder Daniel Murphy is likely done for the season because of a knee injury.
Both players were hurt during Sunday’s 6-5 loss to the Atlanta Braves.
Reyes left in the second inning because of stiffness in his left hamstring. The NL’s leading hitter was on the disabled list last month because of the same trouble.
The Rangers placed left-hander Arthur Rhodes on release waivers. The 41-year-old former Mariners reliever becomes a free agent Wednesday, and will be eligible to sign with another club. … The Tigers extended manager Jim Leyland’s contract through the 2012 season, and general manager Dave Dombrowski agreed to a four-year extension through 2015. … Phillies center fielder Shane Victorino is appealing a three-game suspension imposed for his part in a weekend brawl at San Francisco. … Giants right fielder Carlos Beltran sat out of the lineup against the Pirates because of an injured right hand. … The Orioles placed infielder Cesar Izturis on the 15-day DL and recalled pitcher Jason Berken from Triple-A Norfolk. … Padres third baseman Chase Headley was placed on the 15-day DL with a broken left pinkie.