So much for the hottest team in baseball--the Pirates swept the Marlins today, bringing their record for the year up to 9-6. It was a big day for the LaRoches: Adam went 4-for-5 with three doubles, two runs scored and a RBI. Andy was 1-for-3 with a double and two RBIs. Believe it or not, Andy now has a seven-game hitting streak going.
Starting pitcher Paul Maholm allowed four runs, which is more than he allowed in his first three starts combined, but he was generally effective before hitting a wall in the sixth. The Pirates' decision to have Jesse Chavez relieve him in the seventh with a 6-4 lead was interesting: granted, the Bucs don't have a ton of options, but Chavez handled himself well, throwing hard fastball after hard fastball, before being replaced by Sean Burnett after recording two outs. Chavez has now allowed just one run and three hits in seven innings of work. Granted, he has three walks and just three strikeouts, but it will be interesting to see if the Pirates continue to trust him in tough spots. It looks like Chavez may be in Pittsburgh for a while; it may be time to regard him as more than just a replacement for Evan Meek.
The Pirates have a travel day tomorrow, then head to San Diego to face another hot team. Of course, the fact that San Diego and Florida have been among the better-performing teams so far mostly just proves that it's early. The Marlins simply aren't very good. The middle infield is great, Cameron Maybin and Jeremy Hermida have promise, and the young pitching is interesting, but today the Fish had Wes Helms batting cleanup and playing first and Ronny Paulino behind the plate. That tells you a lot of what you need to know. The Marlins aren't bad, but they're more like the 2003 Royals than a legitimate playoff team. It's great that the Pirates swept them, but that need not say much about the Bucs. Don't be surprised if they continue to play well against the Padres, but don't read much into it either.