Pirates Notebook: Looking for winning streak
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HOUSTON -- There have been a few streaks -- the four consecutive interleague wins against Cleveland and Kansas City, the five in a row the team won in May against Colorado and Washington.
But there hasn't been that red-hot spell that could have worked to extract the Pirates from last place in the National League Central.
And that's the frustrating part as the Pirates headed into a series against the Houston Astros last night with a 37-45 record.
What if they could have done something akin to what Houston had done coming into this three-game set?
Houston entered with a 39-41 mark, but had won 19 of its past 32 games.
This much is not lost on the Pirates, particularly in this division.
If they can put together a good two weeks or so, it not only could extract them from last place, but get them within a shot at some of the teams at the top.
After all, with 39 wins, Houston was just four games behind division leader St. Louis as play began last night.
But for the Pirates, that momentum-building streak simply has not been there.
"We know that if we play good, we can beat anybody," Pirates manager John Russell said. "We need to go on that run, we haven't had it all year. [We need to] rattle off six or seven games, or win seven out of 10, or win six out of 10.
"Or we need to play .500 for a week or win seven out of 11 ... We haven't done that yet. We just need to get on that type of roll."
First baseman Adam LaRoche understands what momentum could do for this team.
"It hasn't happened," LaRoche said.
"You know, we'll go and win three out of four, and then we back it up with losing three out of four, and that's the part that [stinks]. That's the frustrating part."
So, who is to blame? Why hasn't it happened?
LaRoche pointed the finger right at himself and the rest of an offense that, since June 1, had scored three runs or fewer 16 times.
"Absolutely, last year, I could say it was on the pitchers," LaRoche said.
"Last year, [the pitchers] didn't perform the way they should have. Now, it is on the offense.
"This year, there is no doubt it is all coming back to our offense. We aren't getting the job done, and these pitchers have given us a chance to succeed just about every night."
Second baseman Freddy Sanchez missed his fourth game in a row with a stiff lower right back and did not pick up a bat in the team's early batting practice session or the regular one just before game time.
"Still day-to-day," Russell said of how Sanchez was coming along.
"We'll just continue to see how he makes progress."
Sanchez, who was reported to be walking gingerly over the weekend in Florida after being injured getting out of a taxi Friday, walked with no pronounced hindrance yesterday through the clubhouse.
Neither he nor Russell would put a definitive timeline on his return, but Sanchez did say he was, "definitely getting closer."
First Published July 7, 2009 12:10 am