Kevin Correia turned in a gem of a performance in a game in front of about eight fans that took place almost entirely after midnight last night, as Bud Selig's Playoff Scheduling Fiasco mandated that the Pirates play the Cubs last night come hell (or literally) high water*. That meant all kinds of strange things happened; for some reason AJ Burnett didn't get on an early plane back to Pittsburgh last night and so the entire Brewer team arrived in Pittsburgh before any of the Pirates did.
Of course, Correia's dominant start against a sleep Cub team (seven innings, two hits, one walk, six strikeouts) means that the Pirates remain 2 1/2 games back of the Cardinals in the wild card race with 16 games to play. That's still somehow tantalizingly plausible, even though the Pirates have been playing awful baseball for almost a full quarter of the schedule at this point. That also leads to plenty of Pirate fan self-torture. Imagine if the Pirates had just gone 4-3 against the Cubs over the last ten days instead of 2-5! Imagine if they did that and just won the extra inning game against the Reds!
This truly has been the most maddening of seasons.
*The reason they had to play last night is this: there is only one off-day scheduled between the end of the regular season and the wild card play-in game. There is already a looming scheduling fiasco should the Pirates or Cardinals end up tied for the second wild card with the Dodgers; the Dodgers have the tiebreaker against those two teams and so they'd be forced to play in Los Angeles on one day and Atlanta the next, as the Pirates and Cards both end their seasons in the Eastern time zone (Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, respectively). That creates a situation in which the Pirates could play in Pittsburgh one day, LA the next day, and Atlanta the third day without bye, which is pretty much expressly forbidden by the CBA. Now take that mess and think about what happens if the Pirates end up 1/2 game ahead of or behind LA when the season ends for the last wild card; you have to also book a trip to Chicago for the Pirates. It's a long shot that the Pirates end up in that position, of course, but there was no way they were going to let that happen. That game was getting played last night.