Since this season became a wash a really long time ago, there are still several things worth keeping an eye on the rest of the season. How will the rookies perform the rest of the season? What will the Pirates do at the trading deadline? Will this season’s team lose 100 games?

All of these areas could draw the casual fans interest, but for me there is one area worth keeping an eye on that will go a long way to determining what type of season the Pirates will have in 2011. Can these guys learn to win on the road?

The Pirates are semi-respectable 23-26 at the friendly confines of PNC Park, but are a dismal 11-38 on the road; including winning only three of their last 28 road games.

Good teams tend to play at least .500 ball on the road and the Pirates haven’t come close to that of late. In the two-plus year tenure of John Russell as the Pirates manager, the Pirates are only 61-149 (as of Sunday) away from Pittsburgh- worst in baseball.

Currently there are twenty teams in the majors sitting with records above .500 and all but seven are playing above .500 ball on the road. Out of those seven, only the Mets, Rockies, Tigers and Cardinals sit more than five games under .500 away from their home ball parks.

Teams have won before without winning records on the road, but for this Pirates team to get to the point where everyone wants them to be, they have to start winning on the road, plain and simple. You can’t compete on a nightly basis when you have no chance of competing on the road.

What’s been the problem? Pretty much everything. Offensively, the Pirates are hitting only .235 as team on the road, compared to .250 at home. Neither number is very good, but they have to hit better on the road to win.

The difference is the pitching staff is more glaring. The Pirates staff has a 4.39 era at home, yet on the road there is over a runs difference where they have a 5.68 road era.

Pretty much every statistical category needs to improve on the road for them to consistently win. The biggest thing they are missing is confidence. It seems they expect to lose most of the time on the road and when one bad thing happens, it snowballs on them.

Leadership is also a problem.  The Pirates need a go-to-guy in the clubhouse.  Someone that can speak up and lead by example.  That guy has to be Andrew McCutchen.  Granted he’s only in his second season, but this has to become his team.  He needs to be the guy that changes whatever routine this team has on the road.

Everything they do must change and change for the good.

The Pirates can begin to change that culture the rest of the season. The team faces 32 more games on the road and it should be a focal point to go out and compete and win more than half of these games.

Half of losing is attitude. Let’s see the Pirates start to change that attitude by becoming successful away from home. If they wind up the season well, then maybe these guys will expect to win away from PNC park next season.

That challenge begins with the current six game road trip to Colorado and St. Louis. Hopefully they come back to Pittsburgh with at least four wins.

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