A Pittsburgh Pirates series win would be nice. But who likes nice? Yeh, call us greedy, but the Pirates need a sweep. Doing it this weekend against the defending champion St. Louis Cardinals would also be very timely with a difficult road ahead to end the month of May.
After winning the opening game against the Cardinals in thrilling, come-from-ahead fashion many could tout that the Battling Bucs did it again! Yes, they certainly did. The offense is starting to click and with the road ahead, it needed to. But it’s the pitching and defense that screams for help. Francisco Liriano gave up a lead, Andrew McCutchen is being ran on because at times he has a slo-pitch softball style of urgency.
It’s two things that rarely happened last season. Liriano was dominant (especially at PNC) and McCutchen’s defensive ability jumped. And the team followed that model too, the pitching was sharp, the defense was sharp as well.
In 2014, that hasn’t been the case. Pitching has been below average. The defense worse. But then at the end of the week, it started to change. Charlie Morton turned it around in his last start. Gerrit Cole did the same. Both starters showed what had been expected going into the season and each went eight innings in wins against the Giants. If the pitching hadn’t blown the opener with San Francisco a winning streak would be happening right now. It’s a big difference between winning a series and sweeping a team. Both mentally and in the standings. The team jumped on Michael Wacha early for a 2-0 lead, but then Francisco Liriano threw a bad pitch and it changed the game last night at PNC Park.
So save the Bucs are going all the way music. Save your Zoltan flashing, hashtag using self for a few minutes because we have a request. Pittsburgh Pirates–please stop giving away leads and just sweep the defending National League champions before they start heating up.
Why? Because in the first six weeks of this 2014 season the Red Birds have been road warriors playing something like 26 of their first 38 games on the road. Their 11-13 road record thus far needs a couple more losses for me to feel good. A sweep puts them at 18-20 on the season and would land the Bucs at 17-20.
Also just look at the Pirates upcoming schedule for the next couple weeks. Milwaukee Brewers. New York Yankees. Baltimore Orioles. Washington Nationals. Mets. Los Angeles Dodgers. That’s brutal. The opposition will be at least 20 games over .500.
On the other hand, the Cards schedule in the next couple weeks is light. The team will get home and could easily get hot.
So the Pirates bats will likely be the key in game two tonight against Lance Lynn who the Bucs hit well–career OPS over 800. The offense will have to carry the weight as Edison Volquez goes to the bump. #VolquezLightsOut has been replaced by #VolquezLitUp in his past two starts. The right hander has been hit hard, soft, walked too many batters, and struck out too few on his way to allowing six runs in just five innings pitched the last two times out.
Some of the trouble with Volquez has been bad luck, but it’s been too few punch outs, a couple walks in key situations and then a big hit by the bad guys. We think he could pick up the pace a bit and develop more rhythm as he did early in the season. But all in all, Volquez needs a bounce back start and a packed PNC Park is the place to do it setting up the team for a sweep on its first every Sunday Night Baseball appearance.
So yeh, a sweep is needed for me to feel good about the Pirates again. How sweet would it be to watch on Sunday Night Baseball too? Almost as sweet as the next time the Bucs play the Cardinals, a kid named Gregory Polanco will be in right field.