The Pittsburgh Pirates are the only undefeated team left in baseball. This is a team that was picked by experts to finish last in the National League Central division, picked by other experts to finish in fourth place (out of five teams), and a team that traded away one of their best hitters in Andrew McCutchen and one of their best pitchers in Gerrit Cole during the offseason. Yes, it is early in the season and it would be absurd to think the Pirates have a legitimate shot at a title this season.

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Nonetheless, nobody can deny that an undefeated start to the season is impressive, especially since none of the other 29 teams in the league could maintain that to this point.

This hot start is a big deal

It’s no secret that the Pirates are not a good baseball team. Their subpar pitching staff and mediocre lineup both took a hit over the offseason with the losses of McCutchen and Cole. They most likely won’t even make the playoffs, much less make a serious run at the title.

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Playing in the NL Central with teams like the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals is no help to the Pirates.

The Pirates know they are not a good baseball team. That was part of the problem with last year’s team who, according to Pirates DH David Freese, did not bring a winning mentality to the clubhouse. This hot start should be an enormous boost to the Pirates' clubhouse. Now, suddenly, this team seems to know how to win.

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The next step for this team is to run with this Winning Streak. The team has to feel like they deserve to win, or they won’t win.

The Baltimore Orioles began the 2017 season 4-0, just like the Pirates this year. The Orioles ended the season at the bottom of the AL East with a 75-87 record. That winning streak for the O’s now means nothing. The Pirates cannot let that happen.

If nothing else, the Pirates need to see this hot start to the season as a mental boost.

The team and the organization got criticized tremendously by the press and fans in the offseason but have come out swinging in 2018. Now there’s a glimmer of hope for the future.

Can they keep it up?

No. The Pirates will not make a run in the 2018 season. But that should not dampen what this streak means for the team and the organization. The Pirates have played well during this streak. They deserve the wins.

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(Nicholas Castellanos and the Detroit Tigers may disagree, but the Pirates ended that game with 13 runs, so obviously something was clicking.) Gregory Polanco has been getting on base for the Pirates, putting up a .385/.579/.846 slash line. Josh Bell has also been active at the plate, hitting .438/.474/.500.

On the mound, Trevor Williams threw six no-hit innings against the Tigers. Jameson Taillon went 5.1 innings allowing four hits and two runs and striking out nine batters against the Minnesota Twins.

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Felipe Rivero blew a four-run lead in the bottom of the ninth inning against the Tigers, but then bounced back and picked up two saves in the Pirates' double-header against the Tigers two days later. George Kontos has pitched three scoreless innings on the young season, picking up a save of his own while only allowing one hit.

If the Pirates’ young talent can keep it up, maybe they finish the season in fourth place in the NL Central instead of in dead last. But that should excite Pirates fans (crazy, I know) because it means something is going right. It means this young, scrappy group of baseball players proved the critics wrong and performed better than expected.

The Pirates are in no state to compete with the Cubs, Astros and Dodgers but they need to start somewhere. It’s up to the team to make this winning streak that starting point.

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