There isn’t much not to like about the 2013 Pittsburgh Pirates, well except for Jonathan Sanchez that is.
But after starting the season 1-5, the Bucs have passed every test since and at 15-10 stand alone in first place in the National League Central (I have to say that was fun to type).
They’ve taken series’ from legitimate teams with legitimate major league talent.
They could be baseball’s hottest team right now, winners of 14-of-19. But it’s not just that they have been winning, it’s the fact that they have won six straight series from the likes of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Cincinnati Reds, St. Louis Cardinals (split 1-1), Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies and the Cardinals again.
But while that’s a nice story, they still have another hurdle to climb.
That’s the Milwaukee Brewers and Miller Park.
Yes, the Bucs dreaded nemesis is up next on the schedule as the Pirates prepare for a three-game series against the team they have never been able to figure out, in the stadium that they have gone 7-51 in. After watching some Brewers-Pirates games of the past, the only question that really could have been asked is how did the Pirates ever win seven?
But are we convinced yet that this team is different?
I think it’s a little too early for that.
Three-game series’ at the end of April usually don’t have the word big attached to them, but this is different.
Winning this series can go a long way towards the confidence saying there for this team.
Sure they’ve beaten some good teams this month, but beating the Brewers? In Miller Park?
That’s a different story altogether.
If they take two out of three in Milwaukee, the Bucs will not only send a message to the Brew Crew and the rest of the National League, but to themselves as well.
That message very well could be that this team could be for real.
But first thing first and that’s they have to show they can beat the Brewers in their own park.
Wandy Rodriguez gets the first chance to not exorcise the Pirates demons, but his own personal demons against the Brewers.
The current Brewers lineup has hit Rodriguez to the tune of a .292 career clip. No one has owned Wandy like Ryan Braun has as the former MVP is a career .359 hitter with four homers against Rodriguez.
Shutting down Braun will go a long way towards the Bucs winning this series.
If they do, they could continue to open up some eyes across baseball.
Make no mistake about it; these are three big games that will tell a lot about this team.
Hopefully when it is all said and done, the Pirates hot streak will continue and we can cross the Brewers and Miller Park off the list of hurdles still left to jump over.