MIAMI, FL - JUNE 13: Jeff Locke #49 of the Pittsburgh Pirates delivers a pitch during the second inning of the game against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on June 13, 2014 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)

The waiting game

The worst part of the 2014 Pittsburgh Pirate season was the interminable stretch in the late spring/early summer in which it was clear that the Pirates were playing somewhere below what they were ultimately capable of and unclear if they were going to be able to get their shit together quickly enough to make another […]

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 27: Jason Hammel #39 of the Chicago Cubs pitches against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the first inning on April 27, 2015 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)

Game 20: Cubs 4 Pirates 0

Sometimes, there’s just not much to say about a baseball game. The Pirates only seriously threatened to score once last night, in the fifth inning. The problem is one that I think Pirate fans are probably familiar with; when the offense isn’t clicking on all cylinders, there’s always the risk that they’re going to tumble […]

PHOENIX, AZ - APRIL 26:  Pedro Alvarez #24 of the Pittsburgh Pirates flips his bat after hitting a two RBI single against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the first inning of the MLB game at Chase Field on April 26, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona.  The Pirates defeated the Diamondbacks 8-0. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

This is where the season really starts

When I look at the first three weeks of the 2015 Major League Baseball season, this is what I see for the Pittsburgh Pirates: opportunity. If I had to describe the Pirates first 19 games this year, the word I would probably use is fine. The offense has had its share of fits and starts, the […]

PHOENIX, AZ - APRIL 26:  Andrew McCutchen #22 of the Pittsburgh Pirates scores a fifth inning run against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the MLB game at Chase Field on April 26, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Pirates defeated the Diamondbacks 8-0. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Game 19: Pirates 8 Diamondbacks 0

Last Tuesday, the Pirates lost to the Cubs with a second straight bullpen meltdown. They were 6-8 with five wins against the Brewers, who have managed to become an MLB punchline faster than any team in recent memory. Since then, they’ve torn off five straight wins against the Cubs and Diamondbacks. This weekend, they swept […]

PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 21:  Francisco Liriano #47 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches in the first inning against the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park on April 21, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Francisco Liriano looks to lead Pirates to sweep over Diamondbacks

Much as it was gratifying to see the Pirates win a game started by AJ Burnett last night, it’d be great to see them get a win this afternoon in a game started by Francisco Liriano. Liriano was a little uneven in his last start against the Cubs, but has on the whole been excellent […]

PHOENIX, AZ - APRIL 25: Starting pitcher A.J. Burnett #34 of the Pittsburgh Pirates delivers a pitch against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the first inning of a MLB game at Chase Field on April 25, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)

Game 18: Pirates 2 Diamondbacks 1

It’s nice to see this Pirate team start to win some baseball games in different ways. They came into this game having lost quite a few pitchers duels (almost all of them with AJ Burnett or Francisco Liriano on the mound — six of their eight losses have been started by those two, even though […]

PHOENIX, AZ - APRIL 24:  Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates walks into his dugout after coming out of the game in the seventh inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on April 24, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona. Pittsburgh won 4-1.  (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

Game 17: Pirates 4 Diamondbacks 1

When the Pirates made Gerrit Cole the first pick in the 2011 draft, the vision that they had for Cole was clear: a snarling, fire-breathing ace that would chuck 98 mph fastballs in the eighth inning and turn a manager to stone when he came to get the ball from him after 108 pitches. That’s […]

PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 02:  Andrew McCutchen #22 of the Pittsburgh Pirates reacts after being hit by a pitch from the Arizona Diamondbacks during the ninth inning of the MLB game at Chase Field on August 2, 2014 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Pirates defeated the Diamondbacks 8-3.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

A return to the scene of the crime

After a reasonably successful opening home stand, the Pirates are headed out for their first extended road trip of 2015. They’re in Arizona tonight, which you probably remember as the place where a bad baseball team full of bullshit machismo injured Andrew McCutchen last August because Ernesto Frieri was bad at baseball. Kirk Gibson is […]

PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 23: Gregory Polanco #25 of the Pittsburgh Pirates hits an RBI single in the seventh inning against the Chicago Cubs during the game at PNC Park on April 23, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Game 16: Pirates 5 Cubs 4

When the lineups were announced before this game and I saw Starling Marte on the bench with his hand problem and Andrew McCutchen out with a scheduled off day, I thought to myself, “Well, this is doable if Gregory Polanco does everything by himself.” As it turned out, he almost did, though he got a […]

PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 18:  Jeff Locke #49 of the Pittsburgh Pirates reacts after the Milwaukee Brewers scored on a sacrifice fly in the first inning during the game at PNC Park on April 18, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Jeff Locke tries to get the Pirates a split with the Cubs

It’s only been two games, but I’ve been quite impressed with the 2015 version of Jeff Locke. I don’t like to jump to too many conclusions based on just a couple of games, but Locke’s control looks vastly improved this year and his ground balls are way up. Obviously Locke’s control has varied pretty widely […]

PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 22: Tony Watson #44 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches in the ninth inning against the Chicago Cubs during the game at PNC Park on April 22, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Game 15: Pirates 4 Cubs 3

Well, that was exhausting. With Mark Melancon “unavailable” last night (we’ll see where things go from there), it seemed like the Pirates were in great shape after Rob Scahill got the last out in the sixth inning for Vance Worley. Caminero in the seventh, Hughes in the eighth, Watson in the ninth with a 4-1 lead […]

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The next day

The long and short of it is this: last night was awful enough that it makes me not particularly want to care about the Pirates tonight, but the season is young enough that last night doesn’t have to matter. It would be nice if the Pirates somehow found a way to split this series with […]

PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 21: Jung Ho Kang #27 of the Pittsburgh Pirates hits a bases-clearing RBI double in the seventh inning against the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park on April 21, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Game 14: Cubs 9 Pirates 8

The end of this game felt inevitable in the worst way possible. After a roller-coaster game that saw the Cubs with leads of 1-0 and 4-2, the Pirates with leads of 2-1, 5-4, and 8-5, and ties at 1-1 and 5-5, Mark Melancon stood on the mound with an 8-6 lead. Seeing what this dynamic […]

PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 15:  Francisco Liriano #47 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches in the third inning against the Detroit Tigers while wearing the #42 to commemorate Jackie Robinson Day during the game at PNC Park on April 15, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Let’s try this again

Look, I’ll admit it: seeing Jorge Soler and Kris Bryant turn around 100 mph fastballs to create a late-game rally for the Chicago Cubs is disquieting. There is a voice in my head screaming, “RED ALERT! RED ALERT! I THOUGHT WE HAD MORE TIME BEFORE THE CUBS WERE READY!” right now. It’s early in the […]

PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 20:  Kris Bryant #17 of the Chicago Cubs slides safely into home plate on an error by Francisco Cervelli #29 of the Pittsburgh Pirates during the game at PNC Park on April 20, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Game 13: Cubs 5 Pirates 2

In the first inning, it looked like the Pirates were going to get to Jake Arrieta. Josh Harrison hit a sharp ground ball up the middle that Starlin Castro made a really slick play on, then Gregory Polanco scorched a single to center, stole second, scored on Andrew McCutchen’s single, then McCutchen moved to third […]

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