PITTSBURGH — After a brutal start to the series in which the Pirates blew a five-run lead to lose to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night, whispers could be heard.
Was the Pirates hot start to the season for real, or were they simply benefiting from a relatively easy schedule?
It looked like a fair question, the Pirates schedule had been on the easier side of things. They’ve already played seven games against the 10-15 Cincinnati Reds. They’ve also seen games against the Colorado Rockies (8-18) and the surprisingly-bad Chicago White Sox (7-18) and St. Louis Cardinals (9-16).
Well, those questions seemingly have been put to bed as the Pirates rebounded after dropping the first game to outscore the Dodgers 14-3 over the final two games to take the series.
With the pair of wins, the Pirates sit at 18-8 and hold a 1.5 game lead over the Milwaukee Brewers for first place in the National League Central.
So, is the hot start to the season for real after beating a high-caliber team such as the Dodgers? It still might be too early to tell, but there’s no denying the Pirates have looked great to start the season.
“I don’t know if it’s a statement series. I think we’re just playing really good baseball. Everything’s clicking. We’re hitting the ball, we’re pitching the ball, we’re running, we’re playing defense – we’re doing everything right. There’s no doubt in our minds in this clubhouse that we can do that every night. I think that’s a really special thing we’ve got going,” said Pirates’ starter Mitch Keller.
Keller allowed two innings in the first inning against Los Angeles on Thursday afternoon, but blanked the Dodgers over the final five innings and walked out of the stadium with a 3-0 record.
The Pirates did play good baseball, specifically in the final two games. The Pirates offense raked in all three games, and the baserunning was excellent, too. The pitching was much better in the final two. On defense, after committing three errors in the series’ opener, the Pirates didn’t have any over the next two games.
“I think when you play a team that’s this good, and has been this good for the last 10-12 years or however long, a team that has won 100 games multiple times … coming in, I think it was important for us to play good baseball, and we did,” manager Derek Shelton said.
Winning a series is difficult. Winning a series against the Los Angeles Dodgers is even more so. The Pirates may have, in fact, made a statement.
Bad teams don’t take a series from the Dodgers to improve upon the best record in the National League this far into April.