As if that needed further reinforcement, their latest flat-liner of a loss, 5-1 to the Diamondbacks on Monday night in Phoenix, saw them become the first team since the 1988 Rangers to go through the first 10 games of the season without scoring or allowing more than five runs in any game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. It's the first time a National League team has done that since the 1965 Pirates. That group's streak went 16 games.
How long before the current Pirates break out with something, anything?
The Pirates are dead last in the league in runs (19), batting average (.188), on-base percentage (.235) and total bases (87).
The bright spot is that the pitching has held up its end, as Erik Bedard did again in falling to 0-3 despite a 2.65 ERA. But not much will matter until this team -- say it again -- starts hitting the ball. And that's not going to happen until a slew of individuals step it up. The lineup Monday night included an astounding seven starters with averages below .200. Four of them have lower averages than Bedard, who singled to raise his figure to .167.
Even presumed cleanup man Neil Walker is at .188, though an RBI single and a walk Monday continued a modest awakening.
"Very encouraging," manager Clint Hurdle said of Walker. "Like everyone else, he's been working hard, three, four days of extra batting practice, and getting some results always brings more confidence. All of a sudden, he's squaring up balls he's getting to hit. I know each and every one of them can do it."
Remains to be seen.
--3B/1B Casey McGehee, with seven hits in his first 24 at-bats, could be working his way into more playing time, manager Clint Hurdle suggested. "We like everything we've seen," Hurdle said. "It's hard not to have him in the lineup, out on the field."
--3B Pedro Alvarez probably won't be the one supplanted in the event the Pirates decide to give 3B/1B Casey McGehee additional playing time. Although Alvarez is off to a 1-for-20, 12-strikeout start, the Pirates are adamant about continuing to give him regular at-bats against right-handers. 1B Garrett Jones could see his role reduced.
--LHP Erik Bedard wasn't terribly efficient in allowing two runs over five innings. He walked four, gave up several other deep counts and needed 97 pitches to last as long as he did. Still, he was able to keep his innings mostly clean, and he's stood out as much as anyone in a solid rotation.
--RHP Evan Meek's uncertain 2012 gained little additional clarity after he allowed two runs on two hits, including a home run, in the sixth. His ERA is at 6.75, and he still has not regained his All-Star form -- or velocity -- of two years ago.
--RHP Joel Hanrahan's first save finally came Sunday in San Francisco, but that's no reflection on Hanrahan or the bullpen, which has a 2.54 ERA. "That's what we've been looking for: a chance to give the ball to our closer," manager Clint Hurdle said. Hanrahan was 40-for-44 in save opportunities in 2011.
BY THE NUMBERS: 6 -- One-run games, out of the Pirates' first 10. They're 3-3 in those contests.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I feel like I'm super late getting to the base all the time, then get myself into a little panic." -- INF Casey McGehee, on essentially learning first base after years at third base.