Will the Bucs finally turn the corner?

Yes

This could be the year.

The Pirates are poised to break their nearly two-decades of failure in 2012 — but only if a number of key batters start smacking balls out of the park.

Pedro Alvarez, the club's hope to be the next slugger, put one out of PNC Park on Sunday during a 5-4 win against the Phillies. The team won the opening series 2-1.

But runs were hard to come by during the first two games. And for the Pirates to break their losing season record they need consistent run scoring. There is reason to be hopeful.

Andrew McCutcheon and Alex Presley are showing consistency with a bat already — a carry over from last year. They pushed the Buccos past the Phillies on consecutive nights.

But a few new faces may provide the Pirates with some more runs this year. Infielder Matt Hague got his first hit in the major leagues Sunday. He led the team with a .400 average and seven home runs in spring training baseball.

But the team needs more home runs to make it over the hump. A few new faces and the hopeful arrival of Alvarez could be the right mix.

The Pirates need Casey McGehee to revisit his 2010 form. He hit 23 homers that season for Milwaukee. He only knocked 13 into the stands, however, last season. The Pirates are hoping a change of scenery rejuvenates his career.

Clint Barmes, another new Pirate, had 23 home runs in 2009 with Colorado. His highest total since then was last year when he hit 12 homers.

There is no guarantee these two pick-ups will hit double-digit homers this year. But fans should be optimistic. The chances of the veterans returning to form, or the young talent improving are as good as the Pirates have had in recent decades.

(City editor Rick Kazmer can be reached at rickk@dailyamerican.com. Read his blog, "The Kazmer Report," by scanning the QR code at left.)

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