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No time like present to get excited

After a 3-3 road trip to open the season, the Pirates get ready for their home opener against a struggling Astros team. The Pirates needed a good start to the season. Not only does it show that they can win on the road, but that they can compete against NL Central teams.
The decent start also gives fans a little something extra to get excited about. With the first homestand of the season finally here, Pirate fans can talk about that elusive .500 mark. If the Bucs went 1-5 on the road, the attitude of the fans would be "another losing season." Those comments will come soon enough, but isn't it nice to have the Bucs 3-3 and near the top of the standings instead of in last place after one week?
What the first week showed is that the Pirates will be inconsistent. Let's just hope they can string enough solid performances together. After beating up the Cardinals 7-4 for their second victory of the season, the Pirates got just one hit the following day. They had a similar outcome against the Reds. After posting 10 runs on Saturday, the Bucs managed just three hits. Both dismal offensive showings wasted good pitching performances. If the Bucs want to stay near .500 all season, they can't be that inconsistent.
One player who has been consistent all week is Nyjer Morgan. After struggling in spring training, Morgan looks like he wants to keep his starting job. That's good news for the Bucs if the speedy lead-off guy can get on base once or twice a game.
Another consistent player is Adam LaRoche. Unfortunately, the first baseman still can't hit in April. He doesn't need more at-bats to get out of his slump, he needs to sit. Nothing has changed in the past three years. Unless the Pirates put heaters throughout PNC Park to make it feel like August, LaRoche will remain as cold as the weather. And it looks like his brother, Andy, is just like him. Adam LaRoche won't get sent to the minors because of his salary, but Andy LaRoche needs help, and that can be done only in Indianapolis.
As far as the pitching, I have said from the start of spring training, the Pirates have proven starters but they have yet to duplicate their career years. Paul Maholm looks like he will be the first hurler to do so. Maholm has been sharp in his first two outings, a very good sign. If Zach Duke can put in a quality start against the Astros, Duke also is on his way to a good year -- another good sign for the Pirates. And if the real Ian Snell can pitch like he did against the Reds, the Pirates will actually have three solid starting pitchers. I'll take three of five any week of the season.
But, like I said, the Pirates will need to be consistent. The talent is showing. We just need to see on a more consistent basis. Go Bucs.
By Jim Spezialetti