It’d be pretty easy to overlook the Padres from where the Pirates are right now; they’re sandwiched right in the middle of four series against playoff contenders (Reds and D’backs on one side, Dodgers and Cardinals on the other) and they’re not very good (49-64). The Pirates can’t really afford to look ahead at this point in the season, though, and I hope that that’s clear to the team by now. Wins that they get against the Padres offer some protection for wins that maybe they don’t get against the Dodgers or Cardinals or whoever.
This three-game set kicks off with Edinson Volquez and James McDonald tonight. McDonald looked mostly like his pre-All Star Break self in his last start against the Reds, even though it resulted in a loss for the Pirates. His control was back, he was missing bats, and he was quite good besides a difficult first inning. Volquez is the prototype for the pitcher that gave the Pirates problems before their offensive explosion in June; he mostly struggles with control but he’s capable of big strikeout totals. If the Pirates can’t draw walks against him, they’ll probably make him look very good tonight.
First pitch is at 7:05. The Reds are about to beat the Cubs, so the Pirates will need a win to stay 2 1/2 back.