It’s a special time to be a Pittsburgh Pirates fan. With their victory yesterday afternoon, the Pirates improved to 32-14 at PNC Park, earned a series sweep over the Miami Marlins, and improved to 14 games over .500 on the momentum of a season high five game winning streak.
Andrew McCutchen, Pedro Alvarez, and Neil Walker are leading the offensive attack, while players like Garrett Jones and Casey McGehee are delivering at vital parts of the ballgame. Amidst all the discussions and rumors about the Pirates acquiring a power bat at the trade deadline next week, this current roster of players is putting enough runs on the board night after night to win again and again.
The story of this past series against the Marlins was the pitching staff. Kevin Correia, A.J. Burnett, and Jeff Karstens all earned victories this weekend, while the bullpen pitched seven innings of shutout baseball across the three games in which the Pirates collectively outscored Miami 12-4 in front of capacity crowds.
The Pirates continue to keep pace with the Cincinnati Reds, who have a half game lead in the N.L. Central. After a ten-game stretch that features six games against the Chicago Cubs and four games against the Houston Astros, the Pirates will face the Reds in a crucially interesting series at Great American Ballpark. But first things first…the Bucs need to keep this momentum going over the next ten days against the two weakest teams in their division.
Cubs (38-56) vs. Pirates (54-40)
About the Cubs…
38-56 Record, 5th In N.L. Central
Last Series: Swept @ St. Louis Cardinals
It’s been a nightmare of a season for the Chicago Cubs. They’ve struggled with on-field immaturity since the onset, and while they have a handful of young talented players, that lack of team chemistry, along with the effects of the loss of a few players in the offseason, has been felt since the season’s onset.
After an 8-15 start to the season in April, things even got worse in May, as they sported a 10-17 mark, which included a season high 12 game losing streak. After a similar June, the Cubbies got off to a strong start this month, before this past weekend, when they were swept by the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium in a series in which they were outscored 23-1.
With their season all but over in terms of a postseason opportunity, the Cubs have made it obvious to the rest of the league that they’d be willing to deal virtually any player on their roster. That would include guys like Starlin Castro and Alfonso Soriano, but contracts and money owed in subsequent years halted those trade talks before they even began. Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza are the two most-talked about players, along with former Pirate Paul Maholm, in terms of moving to another team before the trade deadline. The Pirates are rumored to be interested in Maholm.
The Cubs always seem to play the Pirates tough, whether the games are played in Chicago or Pittsburgh. But with the way the Bucs are playing at PNC Park right this season, it might be a different story this time around. Let’s hope so at least.
7/23 – Jeff Samardzija (CHI) (6-8, 4.57 ERA, 109 K, 40 BB, WHIP 1.38) vs. Erik Bedard (PIT) (5-10, 4.55 ERA, 82 K, 43 BB, WHIP 1.52)
7/24 – Paul Maholm (CHI) (8-6, 4.09 ERA, 69 K, 29 BB, WHIP 1.29) vs. James McDonald (PIT) (10-3, 2.93 ERA, 104 K, 40 BB, WHIP 1.11)
7/25 – Ryan Dempster (CHI) (5-4, 2.11 ERA, 77 K, 27 BB, WHIP 1.05) vs. Kevin Correia (PIT) (7-6, 4.31 ERA, 46 K, 28 BB, WHIP 1.29)
Quotes From Both Sides:
[box_dark] “It’s very tough. I think we forget this weekend.” [/box_dark]
Cubs’ outfielder Alfonso Soriano on getting swept and outscored 23-1 by the Cardinals.
[box_dark] “A lot of these guys weren’t here when I was here in ’09 and we lost 99 games…and then the next year, 105, and to come out here and see the crowds that we’re getting, it definitely means a lot to me and this clubhouse and the guys. I think we’re showing it the way we’re playing. We love it, we’re battling and playing hard for the city of Pittsburgh.” [/box_dark]
Jeff Karstens on the PNC Park crowd
The Pirates are riding their longest winning streak of the season and remain a half game back in the division as they open a stretch of games against the weaker opponents in the N.L. Central. Be sure to check back here for the latest recaps and reactions to each and every Pirates game from us, the Fans From The Stands!
Let’s Go Bucs!