There is nothing quite like a baseball team that's on a roll. I mean, a big roll where they win eight or nine games straight. If you're a fan of the team, you can't wait to turn on the television or head to the ballpark, because you know there's a pretty good chance that you'll be seeing a team that can do no wrong.
Unfortunately for the Pittsburgh Pirates, long-winning streaks have proven to be quite elusive over the past season and a half or so. In-fact, you have to go all the way back to September 17th-22nd of 2010, to find the last time Pittsburgh won at least five games in a row.
And forget about the Buccos sweeping a three for four games series. You have to go back to June 14th-16th of 2011, when the Pirates swept the Astros in a three-game series down in Houston, to find the last time the team accomplished that feat.
For my money, there is nothing that makes a statement to an opponent better than sweeping them right out of the ballpark. Outside of the sweep in Houston, the Pirates had several chances to do that last year--most notably against the Phillies, Tigers and Red Sox at PNC Park--but they almost always found a way to let the last game of a series slip away.
Overall, the 2011 Pittsburgh Pirates managed to win at least three games in a row six times and four games in a row three times.
So, why is it so hard for the Clint Hurdle-led Buccos to put lengthy winning-streaks together?
The most obvious answer, of course, is the deficient offense. Once again, the Pirates had a chance to finish off a three-game sweep tonight at PNC Park when they took on Stephen Strasburg and the National League East-leading Washington Nationals. Unfortunately, the Pirates could only muster a couple of runs in a 4-2 defeat.
Sure, it's no crime being out-pitched by a talent like Strasburg, but the Pirates offense is going to need to start solving pitchers like Strasburg if they're ever going to become a true contender in the NL Central.
I know the Pirates have a pretty decent pitching staff, but even a team with five dominant starting pitchers would have a hard time winning games with such a pedestrian offense.
That's the tangible reason--the lack of offense--but maybe there's an intangible reason at play here, too.
The Pirates, under Hurdle, talk an awful lot about winning series. "Hey, we took two out of three, and that's the most important thing." Maybe they relax a little once they take the first two games of a series. It is true that winning two out of every three games that you play will probably get you into the postseason, but realistically, these Pirates(14-17 after tonight's latest failure with broom in hand) are going to have to learn how to go for the throat whenever they have a chance to sweep a team.
It's good for the maturation of a young baseball team.
It's also good for building long winning-streaks.