It might be early in the season, but there can be no bigger shock in the ranks of Major League Baseball than the overall success of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Currently 11-7, and sitting in second place in what should end up being a hotly contested NL Central, the Bucs have been the talk of analysts and fans alike, displaying a determination that can only be described as inspiring.
Pitchers Zach Duke and Paul Maholm both have three wins so far, with Duke already pitching a complete game (a four hit shutout of Houston on April 13th). Closer Matt Capps’ five saves rank him fourth in MLB.
Offensively, the Pirates have several players getting the job done, day in and day out.
Second baseman Freddy Sanchez leads the team with 26 hits, trailed just barely by Nyjer Morgan who has 25. those stats place the 14th and 15th respectively in the league. In addition, Sanchez leads the team with a .351 batting average. His nine doubles tie him with two other players for the major league lead.
Adam LaRoche and Nate McLouth lead the team in power numbers with five and four homers respectively. Both players have 14 RBIs, which leads the team.
Playing a true team, Pittsburgh first garnered real attention this season when they swept the now-sliding Marlins, before taking two of three from San Diego. The last game, a 8-3 victory, was at the expense of stud pitcher Jake Peavy.
However, the news is not all good for Pittsburgh and their long suffering fans.
Catcher Ryan Doumit and “Captain” Jack Wilson are currently on the disabled list, while budding superstar McLouth is currently out of action as well, but has not been placed on the DL.
Doumit had surgery to repair a fractured bone in his wrist last Thursday, and isn’t expected to be back in action until at least mid-June.
Wilson was placed on the 15 day-DL on Saturday because of a sprained left middle finger which occurred in the Pirates home opener on April 13. The injury has gotten worse since then, prompting his being sidelined.
McLouth sustained an oblique injury on Friday during batting practice, and sat out the Bucs weekend series with the Padres. It is unclear when he will return.
So, Bucs fans, batten down the hatches. The immediate future doesn’t seem to promising offensively.
However, you’re in good shape when it comes to the guys on the mound, and that could carry your team until the big bats return.
Either way, a lot more eyes than normal will be focused on the Pirates. Let’s see if they can weather the storm and continue their hot play.