Perhaps we should've realized that a series out in Denver sandwiched between an incredible homestand and a series against the Cardinals was going to be an easy target for a let-down. Certainly we should be happy that the Pirates appear to have escaped last night's game without serious injury,
Whatever the case, it's certainly not fair to say that the Pirates need a win today. The Cardinals lost their first two games against the Cubs and have dropped four straight, which means that the Pirates divisional lead is holding strong at four games. No matter what, they'll enter next week's series in St. Louis with at least a three-game lead on the Cardinals. Of course, a win today would ensure that no matter what happens in Busch next week, the Pirates will emerge in first place. That would be a nice comfort to have.
It would also be a nice comfort to see Jeff Locke go out and make a strong start. Coors Field is hardly the best place for that to happen, but hey, you go with what the schedule deals you. Since the break, Locke has walked 14 runners in 22 1/3 innings, while giving up 28 hits. There is this mantra that gets repeated on the broadcast whenever Locke walks someone that goes something like, "Well, you have to accept that Locke is going to walk batters, but at least he's good at preventing the other team from getting hits." The problem, of course, is that his strikeout rate is also low, which means that the high walk rate is sustainable, but the low hit rate wasn't. In short: if Locke is going to keep walking people the way he has after the break, we're going to be hoping for a miraculously fast Wandy Rodriguez rehab because Locke's starts are going to get ugly.
Someone named Chad Bettis is starting for the Rockies. He has been really terrible this year. First pitch is at 4:10.