I've really got to hand it to the Pirates.
Spoon and I went to the game tonight. Our seats were in Sec 112, row B, so we were about 100 feet away from watching the Pirates offense tag Chris Capuano. Capuano went six innings and struck out six, but he also gave up six runs on 11 hits, including three homers.
I have no idea what's gotten into the Pirates offense, but I'm starting to get the feeling that maybe we're starting to see something here. Consider this...
1. Tonight, they hammered Chris Capuano, a pitcher who won 18 games last year and was supposed to be surrounded by a better team this year.
2. Tuesday night, they knocked Jorge De La Rosa out after three innings. With any other team, you'd expect this to happen because De La Rosa isn't much more than a spot starter, right? But this is the Pirates, and how many times over the past few years have the Pirates managed to make young pitchers and spot starters look like Cy Young winners? They also knocked Jose Capellan around in his two innings, and it was only a year or so ago that Capellan was being touted as one of the best up-and-coming relief pitchers in the majors.
3. Monday night, they light Doug Davis up like a Christmas tree, knocking him out after only three innings. Davis finished tied for third in the NL in strikeouts last year with 208. The Pirates got to him for 11 hits and 8 runs.
4. They kept both Wandy Rodriguez and Taylor Buchholz from reaching "quality start" territory in the Houston series. Again, it's nothing to completely write home about, but Buchholz owned the Pirates earlier in the year. And as I mentioned above...the Pirates have had a tendency to make young pitchers look like world beaters on several occassions over the last couple of years.
5. After coming within an inning of sweeping the Astros, they are now a game away from sweeping the Brewers. Should the Pirates win on Thursday, it'd be a nice accomplishment for a young team, especially since many believe the Brewers are a step or two ahead of the Bucs on the rebuilding scale. Not to make too much of a series, but it's a nice measuring stick for this Pirates club.
(Truthfully, I can't say I'm all that impressed with Milwaukee. They're a decent club with a balanced lineup, and Prince Fielder is one hell of a hitter. But I don't see them quite being this team that's ready to make this leap this year that some were predicting. If they don't get their pitching straightened out, they're going to be just like some of those Reds teams we've seen over the last few years. Anyway...)
Like I said, maybe I'm reading too much into it, but I'm getting the sense that this might be a little more than a hot streak. Going back to the Cincy series, this team has scored 105 runs in 15 games (7 runs a game). Unfortunately, they're 8-7 in those 15 games despite giving up only 68 runs (4.52 runs a game) because five of those seven losses have come in one-run games. Mark of a young team? Certainly. That kind of stuff will hopefully change with experience. But I like what I've been seeing the last couple of weeks. Hopefully, this isn't a fluke.
Hey, we're only a game and a half behind the Cubs right now.