Please help me understand the meaning of the "pick up a lot of ground" expression. I've tried googling, but I couldn't find it in any idioms dictionary or similar places. I've seen several cases of use:
And the left-leaning New Democratic Party has picked up a lot of ground, led by their charismatic 40-year-old leader Jagmeet Singh, who has energized young voters much in the way Trudeau did four years ago.
The Pittsburgh Pirates had a chance to pick up a lot of ground in the Wild Card race over the past few weeks but they have struggled.
The phrase seems to indicate some success or good progress, but I would like to know a more precise meaning. It would be great if someone could explain the origin of this phrase.
P.S. This discussion: what does ground mean in "a lot of **ground**"? hasn't give me complete clarity