That's a tough question. In the first 50 games we had the best one-two-three punch in baseball—Ronnie Kline, Bob Friend and Dale Long. We won 30 of our first 50 games but only 14 of the second 50. Just think, we scored only 15 runs for Bob Friend in 11 games.
We haven't hit when the hits count most—with men on bases. Our pitching has been O.K., but the pitchers can't carry the team. Understand, our hitting isn't bad. Several of our batters have good averages, but we haven't hit in the clutch. I'm as guilty as the rest of our players.
The Pirates are a young club. All clubs are subject to slumps. Brooklyn, this year, is an example. However, a young club like ours presses more. The slump lasts longer because the pressure is greater. The Pirates don't need much help to make them a pennant-contending first-division club.
We've just had a 30-minute clubhouse meeting trying to work that one out. We beat the clubs that are now beating us. We can still do it. Our injuries, more than other clubs, prolonged our slump. But I think that the basic trouble was our age. We were too young to keep up the early pace.
Nothing that a few timely hits couldn't cure. Out of 73 defeats, we've lost 23 by only one run. After a spectacular start, our hitting fell off for no apparent reason. We were getting the hits, still are, but not when we needed them most. We're still going to hurt some of the top teams.
Everything went fine for a while. It was real great being on top. Too great because our fans got the pennant fever. That was unfortunate because we don't have a first-place club. We seem to have let our fans down. I think we can finish fifth this year and in the first division next year.
We stopped getting timely hits. The reason? Who knows? Dale Long certainly could not be expected to go on hitting the way he was. When he stopped hitting no one picked up. We've also given away too many runs. There's no reason why we should because we have a great defensive team.
Any number of things. Mainly we stopped getting enough runs. Actually, we're not the club to get a lot of runs. We lost our early season punch to back up our fine pitchers. I'm mainly to blame, although it's not all my fault. I hurt my leg. But I don't mean this as an alibi.
The rest of the league ganged up on us. They thought we still belonged in last place and couldn't stand our being on top. We just pressed too hard to get out of our slump. But we gave them something to think about. They don't take us for granted any more. Watch the Pirates from now on.