Yesterday's game did not go well. Clint Hurdle leff Jeff Locke on the mound two batters too many, and he came out of the game with an 8-0 deficit instead of a 5-0 deficit. The offense tried to rally, but Neil Walker came up against a left-handed pitcher at the critical point (down 8-5 with the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth inning) in the game and struck out. The bullpen failed to hold the line from there on out, and the result was a blowout loss, which is something that's happened quite a bit in the last few weeks.
Today, the Pirates play the last game in a short homestand against the Diamondbacks. They will then immediately head out to the West Coast for three games against the Padres and four against the Giants. After that road trip, the Pirates will play six games against the Brewers and Cardinals at PNC Park, then go on the road for six against the Brewers and Cardinals. That means that the goal for today and this coming week is pretty straightforward: stay in first place until the games against the divisional teams start up again. Among other things, the Pirates have an 8 1/2 game edge on the Diamondbacks for the National League's final playoff spot. I'd say that 9 1/2 games looks much better than 7 1/2 games this late in the season, so let's start there.
Charlie Morton starts for the Pirates against Wade Miley this afternoon. Morton's looked pretty decent since starting the 13-0 blowout loss to the Cardinals; he made a really strong start against the Marlins, then he made an adequate once against the Cardinals that should've been good enough to win the game, had the Starling Marte debacle not taken place. Miley had put together a really excellent nine-start run in which he had a 2.01 ERA, but the Orioles got to him pretty well in his last start. This is just a passing observation that could be meaningless, but he's thrown 100+ pitches in nine of his last ten starts, which is not something that he's ever really done before. It's possible that his last start against the Orioles was a sign of him running out of gas, though that may be reading a bit much into things.
The first pitch this afternoon is at 1:35. The Cardinals are two games behind the Pirates. They play the Cubs at 2:20. The Reds are 3 1/2 back. They play the Brewers at 2:10.