Well Pirates’ fans, here we are again at that .500 mark. It seems SO difficult for the Bucs to reach that plateau every year, and the later in the season that it happens, the more we get excited for it. With their 2-1 series-clinching victory last night over the N.L. Central leading Cincinnati Reds at PNC Park, the Pirates are an even 25-25, and are just three games back in the division. Not bad at all for a team that is dead last in nearly every statistical offensive category. Yes, it’s true…the hitting has been THAT bad. But the pitching has also been THAT good.
Without a doubt, the Pirates’ offense needs to drastically improve if they’re going to seriously contend for anything beyond mediocrity this year. Jose Tabata and Pedro Alvarez desperately need to be more consistent, while Neil Walker needs to pick up the pace as well. Rod Barajas is beginning to look like the player we expected him to be, a .230-.250 hitter with some power potential. Clint Barmes has been so bad, though, that the Bucs continue to rotate other players (Josh Harrison, Jordy Mercer) in and out of the lineup to try to spark some offense from somewhere…from anywhere.
Andrew McCutchen is the stud of this offense, no doubt about it. But as the rest of the team struggles, we will begin to see the opposition pitching around Cutch. Expect it sooner rather than later. Still, though, given the incredibly stingy nature of the starting rotation as a whole, as well as one of the best bullpens in baseball shutting the opposition down every night, led by Jason Grilli and Joel Hanrahan, the offense doesn’t need to do a lot…it just needs to do SOMETHING.
The Bucs continue this stretch of N.L. Central play this weekend at Miller Park against the dreaded (and hated) Milwaukee Brewers. True, they don’t have Prince Fielder anymore, but Ryan Braun, Corey Hart, Rickie Weeks, and Co. have had field days in the past against Pittsburgh. After getting off to a slow start this year, the Brewers are playing the best baseball of their season so far. Perfect timing as the Bucs come to town, right?
Pirates (25-25) vs. Brewers (23-28)
About the Brewers…
23-28 Record, 4th In N.L. Central
Last Series: 4-Game Series Sweep @ Los Angeles Dodgers
6/1 – Kevin Correia (PIT) (1-5, 4.30 ERA, 18 K, 17 BB, WHIP 1.22) vs. Randy Wolf (MIL) (2-4, 5.73 ERA, 30 K, 22 BB, WHIP 1.67)
6/2 – Erik Bedard (PIT) (3-5, 3.12 ERA, 51 K, 22 BB, WHIP 1.35) vs. Shaun Marcum (MIL) (3-3, 3.63 ERA, 58 K, 21 BB, WHIP 1.23)
6/3 – James McDonald (PIT) (4-2, 2.20 ERA, 63 K, 19 BB, WHIP 0.96) vs. Michael Fiers (MIL) (1-0, 1.29 ERA, 3 K, 0 BB, WHIP 0.71)
Quotes From Both Sides:
[box_dark] “I’ve been around a long time. I’m no All Star. I’m no Cy Young, but I’ve been through the battles. I know what it’s like to win. I know what it’s like to lose…I’ll do anything I can to help…that’s why I’m here.” [/box_dark]
A.J. Burnett after his dominating performance as the Pirates beat the Reds 2-1 on Wednesday
[box_dark] “We’re playing really good baseball right now. I told the guys when we play our game, we feel we can play with anybody.” [/box_dark]
Brewers’ Manager Ron Roenicke on his team’s recent play
This is a huge series for the Pirates against a red-hot Brewers team that just swept the Los Angeles Dodgers on the road. The Bucs can gain more ground in the division with a strong showing, or well…we know what could happen otherwise.
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Let’s Go Bucs!