Morton and the Bucs looking at .500

Charlie Morton looks to continue his magical run against the Dodgers tonight. (AP photo)

The city of Pittsburgh is rich in sports history, and the people who reside along the Allegheny bleed, sweat and cry yellow and black. For the past 18 years, Pirates fans have contributed most of those tear drops. However, this year seems to be different. The 2011 Pittsburgh Pirates are no longer seen as an easy win for their opponents.

Clint Hurdle, thus far, has proved to be a dramatic improvement as skipper of this club. He seems to have gained instant respect from his players. He brings a more hands-on approach, while looking into the talents of each player, something that previous management failed to acknowledge.

With Andrew McCutchen proving he has power from the lead off spot, smashing seven home runs already this season (almost half of his total 2010 campaign), questions have arisen in Pittsburgh if it is time to put him back in the three hole. Neil Walker, too, has come into 2011 on a mission. He sits on top of the Pirates roster with 21 RBI, while batting .287.

It goes without saying that a strong Pirates starting pitching staff, with all but one with an ERA below four at this point in the season, is something new to the Steel City. While the acquisition of Kevin Correia was a huge step in the right direction for the Pirates, there is no doubt this year’s biggest story has come from the 6′-5″ frame of Charlie Morton, and his newly found sinker. Already doubling his win total from last year, and leading the team with an ERA of 3.13, Charlie is a new and exciting force on the mound. The same reporters and TV personalities, who just 10 months ago bashed Morton, are now calling him the next Roy Halladay. Charlie currently sits at second in the major leagues for ground ball outs, a stat he may very well own after the game tonight.

While the Pirates are teetering on .500 baseball, the city of Pittsburgh is breathing a sigh of relief. Could this be the year that ends the streak of the most losing franchise in sports history? Pirates fans are not expecting a World Series ring this season, but they are finally starting to see the light on the horizon, and that light is a glistening yellow and black.

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