AUBREY BRUCE

The Pittsburgh Pirates returned home to PNC Park after offensively being on a “semi-fast” during their seven-game west coast excursion. I wrote in a previous column that, “The upcoming road trip will either be beautiful or brutal for the Pirates.”

The Pirates returned to PNC Park on May 16 after completing a seven-game west coast trip against the Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks. I have to rescind my assertion that based on the Pirates’ questionable defense and offense that if Pittsburgh could not win the lion’s share of games played on the opposite coast that the Bucs would be mired in last place in the NL Central Division.

As of May 15, the Pirates had a day off, preparing to square off with the powerful Washington Nationals, the series starting Tuesday. Pittsburgh remained in the cellar of the NL Central trailing the division-leading Cardinals and trust me, it could have been a lot, lot worse simply because of this; During the Pirates’ “vacation” to the opposite coast, they were outscored by the untidy sum of 41-21, including a three-game sweep by the Dodgers and losing the first two of their four-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks. They rebounded and won the final two games.

However, that being said, the Pirates got a bit more pep in their step as they neared the conclusion of their play away from the friendly banks of the Allegheny River. I have said on many occasions that Pirates skipper Clint Hurdle is one-fourth magician, one-fourth neurologist, one-fourth psychologist and one-fourth baseball tactician. Recently, I called into question his promoting first baseman/outfielder Jose Osuna from the Pirates AAA affiliate, Indianapolis, to the “parent club.” But if the home run that he crushed during the Pirates 6-4 win against Arizona this past weekend is a future indicator of his power, many MLB pitchers are going to be frustrated at having to face Osuna on a regular basis.

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