This win puts Bucs on the map — and NL on alert
Watching today’s game on TV — one of the perks of taking a little vacation break — I was impressed with how many times Bob Walk mentioned his concern about the Pirates’ inability to add on to the five runs they scored in the first inning.
I was particularly impressed after the Bucs closed out the 5-4 win over the Phillies. Because Walk was absolutely right — sitting on five early runs is normally a recipe for a come-from-ahead loss. The fact the Pirates didn’t let it happen made it, in my opinion, their biggest statement win of the season.
Only special, legitimate teams get away with a win like that. The Bucs’ 40th win was their biggest yet. From Casey McGehee’s big bomb in the first to his clutch dash-and-catch of Pirates-killer Carlos Ruiz foul pop in the eighth — right through winning despite Andrew McCutchen’s 0-for-5, which would have been impossible a couple of weeks ago — this was a contender doing everything necessary to win.
Without a question, this is the most intriguing phase of the Bucs’ season. Because once they started slipping last summer, there was no stopping the free-fall. Amazingly, within 18 games, the ’11 Pirates went from first place to under .500, never to surface again, from a record of 48-43 on July 15 to 54-55 on Aug. 3.
Clint Hurdle’s 2012 boys have already had a chance to pull the same disappearing act. Four straight (ugly) losses at the start of their previous road trip dropped them to 32-31, still in the heart of the foreboding Interleague schedule. So the Bucs were again staring disaster in the face, and this time disaster blinked. They’ve gone 8-4 since.
Maybe there is something to Hurdle’s gospel. There is such a long way to go, but there’s a certain ring to “Finish.” Sure sounds better than “Vanish.”