The Pittsburgh Pirates are used to this part, the one where they spend the first half of the season stunning the baseball world with their play. Call it a byproduct of two decades of mediocrity.
Yet promising starts in 2011 and 2012 ended up in an all too familiar place, with the team under .500 after cratering under the pressure of a pennant race.
The freefalls were painful, yet closer Jason Grilli insists they were an important part of the growth process for a franchise learning how to win. Still, even the perpetually optimistic Grilli knows a third disappearing act is unacceptable.
''The time's now,'' Grilli said. ''There's no more development. It's time to win.''
It's a message echoed from all corners of the clubhouse, from veterans like the 36-year-old Grilli to 25-year-old revelation Jeff Locke to star centerfielder Andrew McCutchen to perpetually optimistic manager Clint Hurdle. All understand the club's best record at the All-Star break (56-37) in 37 years will be render...