Big games for the Buccos

The time is now for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Think back one month and all the doubters, which amounted to most of us, were beginning to come around to the idea that the Pirates' decent start to the season might amount to something more. Pittsburgh had teased us last year only to fall apart and rack up yet another losing season, so few could be criticised for wanting the Pirates to prove they could last a season before believing in them.

But as time moved on, and games were ticked off, the anticipated collapse started to seem less likely. As with the Baltimore Orioles in the American League, there was only so long you could knock them and ignore the fact that they were continuning to play well.

Just as belief started to build, the Buccos hit a rough patch of form. They went into a crucial series against the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday having lost 12 of their previous 17 games. Despite taking a 2-0 lead, Pittsburgh were defeated 4-3 and dropped to three games behind the Cardinals in the standings.

Two further defeats over the rest of the series and they will be in a hole that, without much in the way of impact players to carry the team for a few days at a time, may be too deep to climb out of.

Two wins and they would have won a big series against a Wild Card rival, reduced their deficit in the standings to just one game and got their form going back in the right direction.

If the Pirates are a genuine playoff contender, now is the time for them to prove it.

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