Monday, May 16, 2011

Right the Ship

Well the Nightmare in Milwaukee is over, not at the Pirates hand but because the schedule makers showed mercy, unfortunately the 5 game losing streak is not. During the weekend the Bucs also fell further from the .500 mark, going 4 games under at 18-22.

Its hard to put the proverbial finger on what it is the Brew Crew does to put the Voodoo on the Bucs. While the Pirates have the nasty habit of making Milwaukee look considerably better than they actually are, ultimately the Brewers are just a better team at this point, the proof is in the W's .

Getting swept by the Brewers does provide an interesting opportunity in Washington tonight and tomorrow.

The young Bucs have a chance to grow up a bit in the Nation's Capital, they have a chance to show their fanbase there is progress. In past years 5 game losing streaks turned into 7 game losing streaks and then into losing 12 of 13. A lengthy losing streak at this point in the season essentially ends competitive baseball in Pittsburgh for the rest of the year.

The 2011 Pittsburgh Pirates are on the cusp of ending competitive baseball for the year.

But not yet.

While the Brewers are considered a playoff contender, a talented team with established players entering, or in their prime, the Nationals are a team the Pirates have a comparable if not better talent level to. Washington is a team over .500 ball clubs beat.

These are two games and a series the young Bucs need to learn how to win. Two losses and the boulder is essentially on its way down the hill at 6 under .500 with series against Cincinnati, Detroit and Atlanta on the horizon. Two wins and 20-22 doesn't look so bad after enduring the first extensive losing streak of the year.

As early in season as it is, this series is a fork in the road that may determine how we watch the Pirates for the rest of the year.

Paul Maholm, the longest tenured Pirate starter, takes the mound tonight vs John Lannan. Maholm has had a very good start to 2011 by his standards, but little to no run support has dropped his record to 1-5. Not sure if Maholm will have a more meaningful start all year, if the Buccos lose this evening I think you can bank on it he won't. Tonight would be a nice night for the offense to start providing him some runs.

Charlie Morton starts Tuesday against Jordan Zimmerman, if Charlie wants to be a top of the rotation pitcher in the near future this is a match up he needs to eat up.

During a season any team, but especially a young one, goes through highs and lows, growing pains and special moments. These two games feel like a special moment in the development of a team trying to pull itself from the bog of 18 straight years of losing baseball.

While winning 2 games in Washington doesn't guarantee a .500 season it does guarantee the quest for one stays alive, it provides a taste of progress and a chance for the Pirates fans to watch competitive baseball for a few series longer----at the very least.

If you want more information on the pitching match ups check out Rich's preview here.

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