I’m heading out of town for a couple of days for a wedding this weekend, so I’m not sure how much I’ll be writing; I’ll be paying as much attention to the Pirates as I can over the weekend, of course, and I’ll be back on Sunday afternoon and will write up my recap of the Cardinal series then. Until then, lets hit a few important links and things that need to be talked about before this huge weekend series in St. Louis.
First off, Michael Weinreb wrote a piece in Grantland yesterday about the Pirates emerging from the depths of their 20-year funk and how a generation of Pirate fans that have never really experienced winning baseball have dealt with everything. It’s a pretty great read, and I swear I’m not just saying that because I’m in the article.
Now let’s talk about the Cardinals. The Cards lost last night, which means that the Pirates enter this series back in the driver’s seat for the final wild card. The reality of this series is that one game is separating two teams with 44 games left on the schedule; if the Pirates sweep here they have a nice but by no means insurmountable four-game cushion, if the Cardinals sweep here they only have a two-game lead on the Pirates (of course we need to keep the Giants/Dodgers in mind, but for now let’s pretend like the Pirates and Cardinals are the only two teams in this race).
All of that being said, it’d be really nice to see the Pirates step up and play good baseball in a meaningful series. The Pirates have had plenty of meaningful baseball to play over the last two weeks here, and they haven’t really stepped up to the occasion. They weren’t bad against the Reds, but they certainly weren’t good enough to win two of three games. The same is mostly true of their series against Arizona. They were flat-out awful in most of the recently-concluded series against the Dodgers. The Pirates might be able to make the playoffs by kicking the crap out of the Astros and Cubs and Brewers and Mets in September and having that separate them from the rest of the wild card pack, but it’d be much, much easier for them to simply put some space between themselves and their competitors by beating them. It’d make me feel better about where this season is headed and how the Pirates stack up against the rest of the NL in general, too.
The big thing to watch this weekend is James McDonald, of course. He starts tonight and will try to snap out of his second-half funk. I’ve been pretty adamant that I don’t think fatigue is his problem, but then I’m still not sure what his problem is and so I’m just hoping it’s something that he and Ray Searage have isolated. Bedard and Karstens follow him, with Jake Westbrook, Lance Lynn, and Jaime Garcia going for the Cardinals. The Pirates’ schedule gets easier from here on out, but it’d be nice for them to start putting some wins on the board with this series.