I don't think that I need to sell this game or preview it much: the Pirates are a game behind the Cardinals on Labor Day weekend, and now they have three games against them. The Pirates absolutely need at least one win this weekend, though to be honest I won't feel terribly great about their chances to win the Central if they're two games behind the Cardinals on Labor Day. If the Bucs win two, the division will be tied on Labor Day. If they get all three, they'll be the team with the two-game lead.
Pirate fans are pretty down in the dumps after last night's listless loss to the Brewers, so let me remind you of the setting the last time the Pirates and Cardinals played at PNC. The Pirates were right at .500 over a week and a half after the All-Star Break, and they were 1 1/2 games behind the Cardinals and facing the possibility that a bad series would bury them. They had just finished a lifeless series in Miami and there was a lot of doom and gloom. The Pirates won four of five, and that kept them in first place for almost a month. That's not so different from where we are today.
What the Pirates need tonight is another strong performance from Francisco Liriano. He's absolutely buzz-sawed the Cardinals twice in the last month. On July 29th, he went seven innings, struck out eight, walked two, scattered four hits, and gave up one run. On August 14th, he threw a complete game, struck out six, walked one, scatter four hits, and gave up one run. The Pirates need to open this series with THAT Francisco Liriano on the mound. Shelby Miller goes for the Cardinals. Miller's had an excellent season, but he's also lost to the Pirates three times. Let's hope to keep that streak going.
The first pitch tonight is at 7:05. Pirate fans, this is the sort of series we've been waiting for for a looooong time.