If the Pirates beat the Cardinals today, they will have taken four out of six from the Cardinals and Brewers over the last six days. That’d be a pretty good result, and given the general state of the wild card race, if the Pirates can win series against contenders down the stretch, I think there’s an awfully good chance they’re going to find themselves with a playoff spot when the season ends.
Of course, this is all predicated on them winning today. Jeff Locke starts for the Pirates, and he has really not looked good lately. In his last start against the Brewers, he issued six walks and recorded zero strikeouts in his six innings of work, though the Pirate offense did enough work behind him that it really wasn’t an issue. You can’t escape with two runs allowed over six innings in most games that you walk six and fail to strike anyone out, though, and so if the Pirates are going to win today he’s going to have to pitch better.
The Cardinals will counter with Adam Wainwright. Wainwright really hasn’t looked like himself since the All-Star Break; he’s got a 4.70 ERA over seven starts, and he’s only got 30 strikeouts against 17 walks in 44 innings. This will be his fourth start against the Pirates this year, and the Pirates actually put a ton of runners on base against him the last time they saw him (they had seven hits and drew three walks in seven innings) even though they failed to score. This feels like an 8-7 game just waiting to happen.
Andrew McCutchen is in the starting lineup today, which seems a little surprising given that the Pirates have an off-day tomorrow. Pedro Alvarez is not, which is definitely not a surprise given his foot issues last night and Ike Davis’s mammoth home run. Perhaps most notably, Russell Martin is playing in a day game after a night game for the second time in four days. Clint Hurdle is not messing around with a Sunday lineup today. The Giants won last night, so the Pirates can’t pull into the second wild card today. They can, however, get to within 2 1/2 of the Cardinals with a win, and with some luck they could pass the Braves in the standings and pull to within four of the Brewers. Every game is a big game.
First pitch is at 12:35.