Pittsburgh Pirates Could Make a Statement This Weekend Against Milwaukee Brewers

Ryan GauleCorrespondent IApril 17, 2014

Pittsburgh Pirates' Andrew McCutchen (22) is greeted by teammate Starling Marte as he crosses home plate after hitting a two-run home run off Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo during the first inning of a baseball game in Pittsburgh, Thursday, April 17, 2014. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Gene J. Puskar

On Thursday afternoon, the Pittsburgh Pirates routed the first-place Milwaukee Brewers by a score of 11-2, possibly marking the beginning of a turnaround for the club. 

Pittsburgh was coming off a poor offensive performance against Johnny Cueto and the Cincinnati Reds in which they were shut out and held to only three hits. 

The Pirates' team batting average dropped to a measly .223, which was ranked third worst among all teams in the league. 

Now, the Pirates are looking to make a statement against a Brewers club that has come out of the gates better than most people had expected them to. 

The Pirates took the first game of the four-game set against Milwaukee on Thursday, and there were many positive signs for Pittsburgh. 

The first positive was the major question mark that the Pirates were faced with after starting pitcher Jeff Locke went down with an oblique injury: How would the back end of the rotation perform?

Edinson Volquez looked spectacular once again for the Pirates, allowing just two runs in 7.0 innings pitched. He notched his first of the season, but he could realistically be 2-0, having allowed no runs in his previous start. 

Gene J. Puskar

If he is able to perform at the level he had prior to his arm injuries with the Reds, the Pirates will have a much-needed arm at the end of their rotation. Add him into the mix with guys like Francisco Liriano and Gerrit Cole, and there is plenty of reason to view the Pirates as contenders in the National League Central again in 2014. 

Another bright spot was reigning National League Most Valuable Player Andrew McCutchen, who has been struggling early on but blasted a two-run home run to put the Pirates out in front in the first inning.  McCutchen ended up going 1-for-5 on the day with three runs batted in, but his at-bat in the first inning must have had manager Clint Hurdle smiling. 

PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 17:  Andrew McCutchen #22 of the Pittsburgh Pirates grounds into a fielder's choice to shortstop scoring Starling Marte #6 in the seventh inning against the Milwaukee Brewers during the game at PNC Park April 17, 2014 in Pittsburgh,
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Once McCutchen gets going, the sky is the limit for this team, as his performance is vital to the team's success. The more McCutchen gets on base, the more Pedro Alvarez will have to drive in runs. 

The third thing to be excited about for both fans and the organization was the entrance of Jose Tabata pinch-hitting in the eighth inning. 

Tabata crashed into the wall after making a terrific catch Wednesday, and he was taken out of the game. 

Al Behrman

When Tabata was called on to hit, he came through for the Pirates, lacing a run-scoring double off of Wei-Chung Wang and giving the Pirates a five-run lead. 

It was surprising to see Tabata back in action so quickly after being injured, and if he is healthy enough to be in the starting lineup soon the Pirates will breath a sigh of relief. 

Although it is early in the season, winning this series would be huge for the Pirates because it would give them the momentum they need to possibly spark another successful season as they look to make it back to the postseason for the second straight year. 


*Statistics Courtesy of MLB.com