So the Pirates split another homestand at PNC Park after a great road trip out west, and now we find ourselves standing on Friday, May 13th cheering for a team that’s one game below .500. I will continue to inhabit the strange middle ground of saying that while this Pirate team is better than many outside, non-Pirate fan observers think, they’re also not ready to finish .500 or make a serious run at contending this year. That said, my biggest mid-May fear is the start of another collapse like we’ve seen so many times from this franchise in the past few seasons.
I think this Pirate team is on firmer ground than that, especially so long as they keep getting strong outings from the starting pitching staff. That said, it’s hard not to be worried about a road trip that includes a stop at Miller Park. Miller’s been a treehouse of horrors for the Pirates the last few seasons and even though the Pirates have generally been playing better than the Brewers over the last ten or so games, it’s hard not to feel a bit uneasy about this series.
The correct response to this feeling of uneasiness? Don’t peer over the wall that we’ve built around 2011. James McDonald starts tonight and he’s made two very good starts in a row after a rough opening to 2011. Andrew McCutchen seemed appropriately chastened by his benching yesterday and will hopefully resume the tear he was on before being sat down for a night. Pedro Alvarez appears to be getting closer to really breaking out for the first time in 2011. Instead of viewing a trip to Milwaukee as a potential for something bad to happen, maybe we should all be thinking of it as a chance for something good to start.
It’s a tough draw for the Pirates tonight, though, as the Brewers will match McDonald with Yovani Gallardo. First pitch tonight is at 8:10.