After finishing off the Chicago Cubs in a three-game sweep Thursday to complete an 8-2 homestand, the Pittsburgh Pirates head on the road to face the Milwaukee Brewers and Detroit Tigers for five games.
The Pirates needed to put forth a solid performance during the aforementioned homestand because taking advantage of lesser teams is a trait associated with quality teams. As it stands, the team currently sits 11 games above .500—something truly remarkable given the starts of years past.
In 2010, the Bucs were 19-26 on May 24 and sat seven games back in the division. In 2011, the team was 22-25. Finally, in 2012, a year that brought promise to many, the Pirates were a measly 20-24 with a week remaining in May. As Tom Singer of MLB.com notes, win No. 28 was recorded on June 6 last year.
Winning early in the year is certainly one aspect in determining whether or not this team can sustain competitive play throughout the entire season.
Another sore spot for this franchise over the years has been playing at Miller Park—the site of the upcoming three-game series against the Brewers.
Since Miller Park opened in 2001, the Brewers are 525-471 at home. Clearly, there is an advantage to playing in the unique stadium, but a closer look at the numbers shows just how overwhelming the matchup between these two teams has been.
Since its opening, the Brewers are 70-32 against the Pirates at home, far and away the best record against an opponent. From 2003-2013, the Pirates are 21-64 against the Brew Crew in Milwaukee—the worst against any opponent during that time frame. To add to the madness, the Bucs are 42-40 against the Brewers at PNC Park in that span.
The anticipated, hopeful progression from the Pirates the past two years hasn’t seen any progress in this strange debacle either. In 2011, the team went 1-8 in Milwaukee and 2-4 at home against the divisional foes. In 2012, the Bucs managed to go 3-6 on the road but lost four of five at PNC Park.
This is the year where things could be different.
The Pirates only managed to take one game out of a three-game series earlier this season on the road, but they stormed back on the recent homestand to take three of four.
The Brewers are 18-27 and sit 11.5 games back of the division-leading St. Louis Cardinals. They fall into the same category of the Cubs and the Houston Astros as teams that should be beaten by superior squads—despite any odd circumstances involving the teams’ pasts.
The first game of the series gets underway Friday night at 8:10 p.m. ET from Milwaukee. A.J. Burnett (3-4, 2.57 ERA) takes the hill for the Pirates against the Brewers’ Marco Estrada (3-2, 5.44 ERA).