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Pittsburgh Pirates finish the first half strong

Pittsburgh Pirates' Gregory Polanco (25) points to the stands as he leaves the field while celebrating with teammates after driving in the winning run to defeat the St. Louis Cardinals in the tenth inning of a baseball game, Sunday, July 12, 2015, in Pittsburgh. The Pirates won 6-5 in 10 innings. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic) ORG XMIT: PAKS113

Pittsburgh Pirates’ Gregory Polanco (25) points to the stands as he leaves the field while celebrating with teammates after driving in the winning run to defeat the St. Louis Cardinals in the tenth inning of a baseball game, Sunday, July 12, 2015, in Pittsburgh. The Pirates won 6-5 in 10 innings. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic) ORG XMIT: PAKS113

The Pittsburgh Pirates started a four game series against the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday, and they just looked absolutely flat. They couldn’t hit the ball, they made bonehead errors in the field, and they just seemed out of it. They almost got shut out, until Andrew McCutchen hit a solo shot to just save face.

The offense finally showed up on Friday night, as the Pirates won handily 5-2.

Saturday was a 14-inning marathon that ended in McCutchen walking it off with a two-run bomb to take a series lead 2-1.

McCutchen’s home run was the most important hit of the entire season because it showed that the Pirates always have a chance to win. It also gave the entire city hope that we can actually beat St. Louis. It also set the stage nicely for Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN.

The atmosphere in Pittsburgh leading up to Sunday’s game was playoff-esque. National TV was broadcasting the game; the crowd was absolutely ecstatic the whole game, and the players were pumped up from Saturday nights come from behind win.

Francisco Liriano pitched an outstanding game, as he went six innings and only allowed two runs. He also had a pair of RBI. He singled to right field, and Cervelli scored and Polanco came all the way from first to score. The Cardinals would eventually tie it at three in the eighth inning.

The real drama started in the top of the tenth when Arquimedes Caminero gave up a few hits and loaded the bases. The next batter, Randal Grichuk, tripled into the right field gap, but Mark Reynolds was thrown out at home.

The Pirates looked completely out because of the deficit, but they went to work quickly. Mercer got on base, and was moved over into scoring position by McCutchen. Marte singled to score Mercer. After Marte got on, Kang singled, and Francisco Cervelli had the game tying RBI by singling.

Gregory Polanco came up with the bases loaded, and he didn’t waste any time. He swung at the first pitch he saw and drove it into right field to win the game, For Polanco; it was his very first walk off hit.

Sunday’s amazing comeback just signified to the Pirates and the city that no matter how big the deficit, the Pirates aren’t out. This was an incredible way to finish the first half of the year.

The Pirates are currently 53-35 and two and a half back of St. Louis for the division lead. The Pirates were able to cut the once nine game deficit to only two and a half by winning 13 out of their final 16 games before the break.

This Pirates team looks like a legitimate World Series contender. I think that the Pirates are going to overtake the Cardinals for the top spot in the National League Central division. I think that their pitching staff is the key to this whole thing because they can keep the opponent from scoring runs.

The city of Pittsburgh has waited so desperately for a team to compete for a World Series, and it looks like the team has finally arrived.

FOR MORE by Caleb Luketic, check out CalebOnSports.com and follow him on Twitter @CalebOnSports

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