For whatever reason, Sunday is usually the day that I sit back and evaluate where the Pirates are compared to where they've been. It's probably something about the afternoon game that gives an easy week-to-week point of reference
Last Sunday, the Pirates were in rough shape. They were 1 1/2 games out of first after being swept by the Cardinals. Francisco Liriano and AJ Burnett had both gotten bombed, Charlie Morton was an unknown after his injury, and Gerrit Cole's last couple of starts had been decent but not spectacular. I kept telling myself that if the Pirates could get through Texas to the Cubs' series that they might be able to make up some ground in the race, but it seemed hard to figure out how they'd get through Texas with Yu Darvish looming. Beating up on the Cubs felt like a bit of a long-shot, too, because the Pirates really hadn't played all that well against poor teams recently, either.
Fast forward a week. After Francisco Liriano lost his no-hitter and his lead in a matter of a couple of pitches thanks to a Welington Castillo home run, and I felt like I did during the Marlin series that previously represented a high-point for the Pirates this year year. It seemed like it was only a matter of how they were going to win and not if they were going to find a way to do it. The answer yesterday ended up being a Justin Morneau pinch-hit single with Andrew McCutchen on second that somehow caught the grass twice instead of one-hopping straight into Brian Bogusevic's glove, which gave McCutchen the time he needed to get home with what ended up being the game-winning run.
Suddenly, the Pirates have won six of seven, they're 87-62, and they're tied for first with the Cardinals. It's true that four of these six wins have been by one run (and that the other two have been be two runs), but as I said on Thursday, style points are no longer a consideration here. The Pirates were backed up to a wall after the Cardinal series, and they've responded.
Of course, all that matters now is where they are next Sunday. They're on fire for the moment, but we've seen this season swing on less than a dime more than one time. Six of seven is a nice run at the perfect moment, but the Pirates need at least three of four from the Padres in the early part of this week and then they probably need two of three from the Reds in the second part of it. The Cardinals have four against the Rockies and three against the Brewers; counting on them to slow down is poor strategy. The best part of winning six times in seven nerve-wracking games last week is the idea that we get seven more nerve-wracking games this week.no comments