Even with the ugly Friday night loss to the Diamondbacks, the Pirates are one win away from hitting the 11-win mark in this 16-game stretch against bad teams after yesterday afternoon’s win against the Phillies. That may come with a price, as Gerrit Cole was removed from yesterday’s start with lat soreness after five excellent innings. Both Cole and Clint Hurdle make it sound precautionary, but everyone’s still kind of in a holding pattern for more information and we should know more about the injury by the end of the weekend. It’s worth noting that a lat strain is what kept Johnny Cueto out for much of the 2013 season, so as much as everyone sounds relatively positive about this, it’s definitely a concerning injury.
Of course, playoff races don’t slow down for injuries. The Pirates have used these first 14 games against bad teams to make some real headway in the standings — they’re now within 1 1/2 games of the second wild card and 5 1/2 of the Brewers. If the Pirates are going to finish off their run at 11-5 in this 16-game stretch, today seems like the day to do it; David Buchanan vs. Edinson Volquez is a pretty favorable pitching matchup for the Pirates today and it’s hard to know what’s going to happen in the Jeff Locke/AJ Burnett game on Sunday. Buchanan is a 25-year old rookie with the Phillies this year who’s had an awfully uninspiring start to his career, highlighted by a bit of a home run problem (7 homers allowed in his eight starts). Volquez is looking to build on a relatively strong June in which he had a 3.67 ERA in six starts despite allowing eight runs in one of those six starts.
First pitch today is at 4:05.