Pittsburgh's beloved baseball team failed to maintain a winning record in August. Surprised? Angry? The Pittsburgh Pirates (68-60), who sat in the National League basement for two decades, showed signs of life in 2012 for the better part of four months. Led by all-star outfielder Andrew McCutchen, and rejuvenated ace A.J. Burnett, the Bucs battled their way to the top of the National League Central division in July. Now the once-feared team cannot seem to defeat the lowliest of opponents (ie: the San Diego Padres) and dropped three games out of the final wild card spot. So, who wants to give up on this team? It seems that baseball fans wrote the Cinderella squad off already, especially here in Pittsburgh. I guess the winning drought coaxed up some not-so-fond memories in the minds of the Pirates' faithful.
We all remember a similar story from 2011, when the team started fast, then fell apart right after the 19-inning "Meals"-athon. This season just seemed different. Burnett nearly pitched a perfect game, while McCutchen hit most every pitch tossed his way. Then, the Pirates took a 19-inning game away from the defending World Series champion Cardinals in St. Louis. The follow-up performance in San Diego, however, was nauseating to say the least. A three-game sweep at the hands of the N.L. West's worst team left fans confused, and emotionally drained. No wonder so many people who once sang praises for the 2012 Pirates now renounce them as a contender.
Do not give up yet. Remember, a successful September puts a terrible August out of sight and mind. The departure of former starter Erik Bedard (7-14, 5.01 ERA) might ignite some new life into this seemingly exhausted pitching staff. With the 33-year-old southpaw gone, smart money says either RHP Kevin Correia or LHP Jeff Locke will jump into the rotation. Also, Neil Walker and Starling Marte, who spent much of August injured, should boost the diluted lineup if and when they get healthy. Both players provide sorely missed intangibles, such as speed and clutch hitting, that stand to amp up a team that only scored unearned runs as of late.
Everyone take a deep breath, and relax. Prior to the season most Pittsburgh Pirates fans dreamed of a .500 season, and now the Buccos can make that a reality with just 13 more wins. Expect less, and get more when the team makes a run for the playoffs in October. It could happen, right?

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