After starting the 2014 regular season with a record of 8-11, the Pittsburgh Pirates have people wondering if this team can perform as it did last season when it won 94 games and earned its first playoff appearance since 1992.
The Pirates own a poor team batting average of .232 along with a team earned run average of 3.79. Reigning National League Most Valuable Player Andrew McCutchen is batting just .243 on the season, while Starling Marte leads the National League with 31 strikeouts. To put it simply, the 2014 Pirates are not getting the job done.
When the Pirates hosted the Milwaukee Brewers Sunday afternoon, tempers flared and punches were thrown after Pirates starting pitcher Gerrit Cole exchanged words with Brewers slugger Carlos Gomez.
It was an ugly scene on Easter Sunday at PNC Park, but it may have been just what the Pirates needed to awaken them.
The first-place Brewers showed their unwillingness to back down Sunday, and the fourth-place Pirates will have to keep that in mind as the season progresses. If they continue to barely tread water, the Pirates may fall behind quickly in the standings.
However, if they keep the fact that they are a very talented team in mind, the Pirates should be just fine, as things are bound to come together for a team with a lot of potential.
It would be no surprise if yesterday's altercation adds much-needed fuel to the fire in Pittsburgh, as the Pirates have yet to put together a winning streak greater than two games.
During the brawl, Brewers backup catcher Martin Maldonado landed a punch on Travis Snider's face. Snider never saw it coming, and he was cut up pretty badly from the blow.
According to Adam McCalvy of MLB.com, Pirates catcher Russell Martin said, "I've been sucker-punched before, and I know it's not fun. I feel like to learn a lesson maybe you have to be sucker-punched to understand that it's not the right thing to do."
Perhaps the Pirates needed this punch as a wake-up call to get the ball rolling and begin to find some consistency as they pursue their second straight postseason berth.
One thing the Pirates also showed Sunday is that they will not be pushed around, and regardless of where they currently are in the standings, they will continue to fight until they are where they want to be: at the top of the National League Central Division.
Statistics Courtesy of Baseball-Reference.