After a 9-2 road trip that was successful beyond pretty much every Pirate fan's wildest dreams, the Bucs are headed on a six-game road trip to Colorado and St. Louis. The challenge at this point is clear: maintain the four-game lead on the Cardinals over the weekend against the Rockies while the Cardinals play the Cubs, then build on it even more at Busch Stadium next week.
Life is rarely that simple, of course, but the Pirates path to an NL Central title in 2013 is startlingly clear on August 9th. They hold a four-game lead on the Cardinals with nine games left, which means if they beat the teams that they're supposed to beat and hold serve with the Cardinals from here on out, they're going to be awfully difficult for the Cardinals to catch. The Rockies qualify as a team that they're supposed to beat.
The series starts tonight with Francisco Liriano and Jorge De La Rosa on the mound. Liriano beat De La Rosa last Saturday at PNC Park. His control was a little rough against the Rockies last week (he walked five hitters in his seven innings), but they really could not hit the ball hard off of him at all. That and his groundball tendencies this year mean that he can probably successfully navigate Coors Field tonight. The Bucs also chased De La Rosa after just four innings. I'm going to be honest; I feel like Coors is going to bring the Pirates' bats out in a big way this weekend.
First pitch tonight is at 8:40.