This game went bad just about at the same time that it started; it looked like Kris Johnson had some nerves (which is understandable, given the circumstances of his first big league start) and that dug a hole that the Pirates never really had a chance to dig out of against Joe Kelly. We could spend plenty of time debating the decision to start Johnson and not someone else, but at this point it seems to me like the best thing to hope for going forward is that the time off helps Jeff Locke recover some semblance of effectiveness for the last handful of starts down the stretch.
It's almost Labor Day, and the Pirates are tied for first place. Since it seems like I've spent quite a few Sundays recently talking about missed opportunities for the Pirates, let's flip the script: the Pirates have played the Cardinals 11 times over the last five weeks or so, and they've won seven of those games. If the Pirates went 4-7 instead of 7-4, they'd be six games out of first place, settling for a wild card. Desptie some of their struggles with lesser teams this month, the Pirates have really throtted the Cardinals at junctures in which the options were to beat the Cardinals or let them win the division. This week, the Pirates will play the Brewers three times while the Cardinals play the Reds four times. That means the Pirates could very well be in first place when they meet the Cardinals for the final time (in the regular season!) next weekend at Busch Stadium.
This was a good weekend for the Pirates, today notwithstanding. There are only four weekends left.