When Major League Baseball unveiled its tentative schedule for 2013 earlier this week, it included games in August and September, as usual. That's bad news for the Pirates.
The Pirates have been unable to win in the last third of the season for a second straight year, and it is costing them a shot at their first postseason berth since 1992.
Since Aug. 1, the Pirates are 13-26 going into Friday's game against the Cubs at Chicago, which opens a four-game series.
The skid has dropped the Pirates from 16 games over .500 at 60-44 to two games over at 72-70. The Pirates once seemed certain to end its streak of 19 consecutive losing seasons, which is a North American major professional sports record, but that now seems problematic.
Despite playing at a .333 clip since the beginning of August, the Pirates still are in the thick of a six-team race for the second National League wild card with St. Louis, the Los Angeles Dodgers, Philadelphia, Milwaukee and Arizona. After being off Thursday, the Pirates finish the regular season with 20 games in 20 days.
If the Pirates are to make a playoff push, the time is now.
Of course, last year's playoff push completely fizzled. The Pirates were 54-52 and 3 1/2 games out of first place in the NL Central when play began on Aug. 1, 2011. They then went 18-38 the rest of the way to finish 72-90 and a whopping 24 games out of first place.
Thus, in the last two Augusts and Septembers, the Pirates have a combined record of 31-64 for a .326 winning percentage. That isn't exactly the stuff of champions.
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