I’m not sure that a 4-7 homestand is that much better than a 3-8 one, but functionally a win this afternoon ensures that the Pirates will at least head to St. Louis for this weekend’s three-gamer tied with the Cardinals for the National League’s final playoff spot and could theoretically even give them a leg up on the Cards (who are playing Arizona at home tonight). In the long run this one game might not mean anything, but if the Pirates go in tied or a game up on the Cardinals, the chances that the come out of the other side of this rough week tied or within a game of the Cardinals increases exponentially.
And here I am talking about the playoffs when all I really want is to see the Pirates play a game in which they don’t completely suck. A game where they don’t make dumb errors or miss cutoff men or run the bases like tee-ballers. A game where they actually score first and get an early lead and keep it. If they win today while continuing to play bad baseball, ultimately it won’t matter where they were in the playoff race on August 16th because that counts for nothing. Play better baseball today, worry about tomorrow tomorrow.
As you probably would’ve expected after last night, the Pirates have done some roster shuffling before this one. Jeff Locke, the 13th pitcher, was sent down to the minors in exchange for Yamaico Navarro. Navarro will presumably give some depth while the Pirates figure out how long Neil Walker will be out with his (apparently not too serious) finger injury. Chad Qualls was also moved to the bereavement list (he has an ill family member) with Jared Hughes taking his place. I think the bullpen needs more work than that, but putting Hughes back in (who can at least hypothetically throw some high-leverage innings, even if he faltered a bit before his demotion) is at least a start.
AJ Burnett goes today; after trying to break up a two-game losing streak in each of his last three starts, today he’s saddled with stopping a three-game losing streak. Hopefully this start goes better than his last start against the Padres. Joe Blanton goes for the Dodgers. He is, last time I checked, still Joe Blanton. Put guys on base, hit the ball over the fence. That’s the game plan on offense today. First pitch is at 4:05.