I won’t lie. For a month now, there’s been this little voice in my head telling me that the Pirates are going to fall apart, that I shouldn’t get myself more invested in this team because they’re not that good and they’re playing unsustainable baseball and that at some point it’s all going to fall apart and if I get my hopes up, that they’re just going to be crushed. I’ve buried this voice deep down inside me because every time it bubbles up, the Pirates silence it with a run of good games. The Pirates have been a good team to this point in the season and no internal voice is going to keep me from enjoying something I’ve been waiting so long for.
Right now, though, that voice is back. The Pirates have played three straight emotionally exhausting games. They left everything on the table in an extra inning win on Sunday that they needed to have after three straight losses. They immediately flew to Atlanta and played a game that was delayed by rain (which is always tiring to deal with) and on national TV and they came through with a second straight huge effort to get a second straight big win. Then, last night, they played for almost seven hours and they left everything on the table, they emptied the bullpen, and they had the game taken away from them by something that was beyond their control.
Now the Bucs are facing 15 games in the next 15 days with a depleted bullpen and exhausted roster. The next five games are in Philadelphia and Atlanta against two of the best teams the National League has to offer. The wheels on this thing could come off so quickly that by next Monday, the Pirates are in fourth place we won’t do anything but wonder if we dreamed this all up.
Does anyone think that this team is actually going to let that happen? Because as much as that little voice of reason in my head tells me to get my guard up, the 2011 Pirates are a team that refuse to adhere to reason. What they need tonight is for Paul Maholm to make a big start, for Joel Hanrahan to shut things down, and for the offense to give the pitching staff the runs that they deserved last night. There’s no time for wallowing in misery or the blame game after last night’s game. Now, there’s only time to take the field and win tonight. Jerry Meals is in the past. It’s not fair, but it’s over. Win tonight because you have to, Win tonight because that’s all that anyone can do.
First pitch tonight is at 7:10.