As crazy as it seems, if the Pirates can finish off their sweep of the Rockies at PNC Park this afternoon, there’s a pretty decent chance that most of the damage done by their 2-5 week against the Cardinals and Reds will be washed out before the first full week after the All-Star Break begins. The Brewers are sending Yovani Gallardo to the hill against Gio Gonzalez today, while the Cardinals are facing Clayton Kershaw, which means that it’s conceivable that the Pirates end the day within 1 1/2 games of first place in the NL Central if they can pull out a win over the Rockies.
Certainly, the Pirates have a favorable pitching matchup today, with Jeff Locke facing off against Tyler Matzek. I’ve started poking around Locke’s Brooks Baseball page see if I can find a reason for his increased control this year, and honestly, I haven’t come upon it yet. I’m still a little nervous that this control is suddenly going to go up in smoke, but every start he makes makes me feel a little bit better about his improvement this year. Obviously this Rockie lineup in its current state shouldn’t impose much of an obstacle on him, particularly not away from Coors Field. Matzek is a 23-year old rookie this year, and in some deep recess of your brain you might recognize him as one of the pitchers people had wanted the Pirates to draft in 2009 instead of Tony Sanchez. He fell off of the Top-100 radar pretty quickly, though, and after a solid big league debut on June 11th, he’s had some pretty rough outings. It’s true that he’s been better away from Coors Field, but hitters still have a solid .304/.333/.435 line against him on the road. Put simply, he’s the sort of pitcher this Pirate lineup should eat alive, if they’re as good as we think that they might be.
First pitch today is at 1:35.