Pittsburgh Pirates: Every Game in April Is a Playoff Game

Justin Welton@JustinWeltonAnalyst IIApril 6, 2011

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 01:  Pedro Alvarez #24 of the Pittsburgh Pirates tries to keep his hand warm while playing the Chicago Cubs during opening day at Wrigley Field on April 1, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. Pittsburgh won the game 6-3.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

It isn't too often that the Pittsburgh Pirates are over .500. They sit at 3-2 and are playing great baseball. Other than walks and a little bullpen trouble, the pitching has been surprisingly great. They have received quality starts from Kevin Correia, Paul Maholm, Charlie Morton and James McDonald. 

If the Pirates would have dropped the series against the Cubs during the weekend who knows if they would ever get back to .500 this season. It could have been over before it ever began.

The Buccos are playing winning baseball and the credit should go no further than to Clint Hurdle. He is showing more passion in the first handful of games then John Russell did in his tenure at Pittsburgh. He has already argued more times in five games than Russell did all of last year.

He has been a great teacher of fundamentals, base-running and team baseball. It is still early, but he has the Pirates looking like they could be decent this season.

April might be meaningless to most teams but not to the Buccos. They have won five straight Opening Day ballgames. But then it all goes downhill in a hurry. For the Pirates' sake, let's hope that doesn't happen.

Every game from here on out in April is going to be crucial. Watching the Pirates through the first five games has been like watching playoff games. Every pitch, swing or play is meaningful.

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This was especially the case when the Pirates were down to the Cubs in the ninth inning on Sunday. The Pirates record was 1-1, so the rubber match was of epic proportions. I thought I was witnessing the final time they would be .500 this season. But no, hit after hit and the Pirates (along with great base running) took the lead, and ultimately won the game.

This is the life of a Pirates fan. I was too little to remember what happened in 1992, when the Pirates last made the playoffs. The only thing I remember is seeing the final play. Sid Bream rounding the bases and was heading home for the game-winning run. He was safe.

To be honest, I don't know if I saw that play or not. My mind tells me I did because I have been seeing that play for 18 years.

If the Pirates can have a winning record going into May maybe, just maybe, I will finally get to see what real playoff baseball is about.