Playing just so-so baseball over the last few games is not going to cut it for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Pirates need to step it up in the last week or so before the All-Star Break. Going 2-3 against the Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago Cubs is not so hot. Let’s hope the Pirates aren’t putting it on the ol’ cruise control as they head in for a much-deserved four-day rest.
Sans the four All-Stars, of course. There will be no rest for the All-Stars — or at least not as much as everyone else gets to enjoy. The price of success? Eh, if they’d just play the game instead of all these other circus events, it wouldn’t be such a big deal. I mean, is the home run hitting contest really that interesting? (Gotta market the game, I know.)
Today’s Game 3 against the Cubs may say a lot about the coming end of the first half, but it won’t say much about the beginning of the second, despite my initial contention. The four days off kind of erases any momentum coming in as most players head for the hills to forget about baseball, if only for a short while.
In most cases, the break can only help. A six-month season is basically half over, if not mathematically, at least symbolically. Players know this coming in and no doubt look forward to the break, one way or the other.
The Pirates need to step it up, however, because the Phillies, Cubs, and upcoming Oakland Athletics and New York Mets are teams they should be beating more often than not, not just playing .500 baseball against. After disposing of the likes of the Los Angeles Angels, Seattle Mariners and Milwaukee Brewers in their recent nine-game winning streak, they should be disposing of these aforementioned baseball clubs just as easily.
With the exception of maybe Oakland, who always seem to have a scrappy club, the Pirates should be winning more than losing. These games count in the standings just as much as the ones in September.