PHOENIX -- Within the first seven games of this 10-game road swing, the Pirates have twice done something they had done only once before all season, back in early May: allow seven-plus runs in back-to-back losses.
Those sets of defeats -- by identical 8-1 scores in Colorado, and 7-5 in the last game in San Francisco and 7-4 in the series opener here -- would suggest the wheels are coming off a team fueled by pitching.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle has a different take.
"You don't always get the results you want. But all the things you look for -- preparation, focus -- are dropping all over the place," said Hurdle, who characterized his crew as "primed to make run."
"These are the challenging times when you got to pick it up," Hurdle continued. "You take it out west for 10 days, and you've got to fight, scratch and claw. One thing we've been good at is not getting ahead of ourselves, just dealing with the next step."
This four-game set with the Diamondbacks is the start of another opportunistic 10-game stretch against teams with losing records. It will continue with the first two series of the upcoming homestand, against the Marlins who, despite their sub-.500 record are contending for a National League Wild Card berth, and against the NL West also-ran Padres.
Thereafter, the Bucs will move up in class, dramatically: 22 consecutive games against current division leaders (Detroit, Washington, Milwaukee) and prime contenders (Atlanta, St. Louis, Cincinnati).
So being primed would be a good thing.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. Teddy Cahill is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @tedcahill. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.