The Pirates and Cubs have a 12:35 getaway game this afternoon, but Clint Hurdle is not messing around with the typical "afternoon getaway game after winning the first two games of the series" blowoff lineup; with the exception of Mike McKenry starting for Russell Martin, Hurdle's got all of his regulars on the field today.
That's good. The Pirates have had an easy spell in the schedule here and they've taken advantage of it, regardless of today's outcome, but after today things get tough for the next two weeks. There's a trip to Miller Park (still terrifying and still a significant hurdle-with-a-small-h for this club, regardless of how badly the Brewers suck at playing baseball right now), then two games in Detroit, then two games against the Tigers at home, then three against the Reds at PNC, then three against the Braves at Turner. That's a fairly significant 13 day stretch that sees the Pirates play some very good teams and go to four cities (Milwaukee, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Atlanta) without an off-day. Getting a win today and bumping the record up to 11 games over .500 before this stretch starts would be very nice. Clearly Hurdle feels the same way.
For the Pirates, Jeanmar Gomez will try to continue his tightrope act for one more start. For the Cubs, Edwin Jackson will take the mound. Jackson's been hit pretty hard this year, but his peripherals suggest that he should start leveling out. Let's try and delay that by one start.