The All-Star Break is mostly over, and so is my mostly internetless vacation. Starting tomorrow, the Pirates will play the three games against the Reds (second place in the wild card, four games behind the Pirates), four games against the Nats (third place in the wild card, nine games behind the Pirates), three against the Marlins (crappy), and five against the Cardinals (first place in the NL Central, one game ahead of the Pirates). That stretch will end the day after the trade deadline passes.
It's hard to say "the season comes down to this" at any point in the baseball season because the baseball season is so very long, but I think that when August 1st ends we're going to know a whole lot more about the Pirates and where they're going to finish the season than we do today.
This is it, Pirate fans. This is the meaningful late season baseball that we've been waiting for.