Game 158: Pirates 8 Cubs 2

If you were at all concerned that the Pirates were going to be hung over on Tuesday after celebrating their wild card clinching win on Monday night, those notions were put to rest fairly early in this one. After going down in order in the first inning, the Pirates scored three times in the second inning thanks to a Marlon Byrd single, a Gaby Sanchez walk, a Pedro Alvarez RBI double into the ivy, and a Gerrit Cole single that brought home two runs. In the third, Jordy Mercer added his seventh homer to give the Pirates a 4-0 lead, and the Bucs chased Chris Rusin before the inning ended. 

That was really all Gerrit Cole would need, even though the Pirates kept scoring. He gave up in the fourth inning thanks to a Starlin Castro ground ball that found its way under Jordy Mercer's glove, but he mostly cruised through five innings without much trouble. He got into trouble in the sixth by loading up the bases with no outs, then allowing a run when Mercer botched a fielder's choice attempt. He escaped the jam, though, with two strikeouts and a flyout (a terrifying flyout that looked for a second like it might clear the fence and turn a 6-2 Pirate lead at the time into a tie game), and that was pretty much that for the evening. Justin Wilson, Bryan Morris, and Kyle Farnsworth breezed through easy innings, the Pirates piled some more runs on for a nice, easy 8-2 win after quite a few nerve-wracking ones. 

The good news for the Pirates is that this win coupled with a Red loss gives the Pirates a one-game lead in the race to host the wild card game. That one game lead is meaningless (because the winner of the Pirates/Reds series this weekend will also finish up with the best head-to-head record between the two clubs at the end of the season, a one-game lead is as good as a tie right now), but it does create an opportunity for the Pirates to open a two game lead on the Reds tomorrow, which would be gigantic heading into the weekend. That would require another Pirate win over the Cubs (doable) and another Reds loss to the Mets (less likely), but still, it's much better to be up a game instead of down one right now. 

The bad news is that the Cardinals won again, with Michael Wacha coming one out away from a no-hitter against the Nationals. That means that with four games left, the Pirates are still two back of the Cards, and hopes of winning the division recede a little bit every day at this point. They're not quite dead yet, but the Pirates pretty much have to win out to even maintain the slimmest hope of even tying the Cardinals at this point. 

Pat Lackey

About Pat Lackey

In 2005, I started a WHYGAVS instead of working on organic chemistry homework. Many years later, I've written about baseball and the Pirates for a number of sites all across the internet, but WHYGAVS is still my home. I still haven't finished that O-Chem homework, though.