Marlon Byrd is not in the starting lineup tonight, so it would appear that neither he nor John Buck will be available for this series opener against the Brewers. Without knowing what the corresponding move for the trade will be, I'd guess that Andrew Lambo's presence in the starting lineup is a sign that they're not available for tonight's game in any capacity. That means that even though I have a few more things to say about Byrd, I'll save them for later tonight or early tomorrow (hopefully: classes have started and I'm teaching again, plus I have a softball game tonight, plus I'm still trying to make this whole 'graduation' thing happen).
When the Pirates played the Cardinals at the end of July/beginning of August, everyone said that it was the biggest series in the history of PNC Park, but it was said with a winking nod that that would be true of every subsequent series over the season's final stretch. I think it's important to note this, because this is no longer true. If the Pirates play poorly against the Brewers and Cardinals this week, there is a legitimate chance that they will play the season's final three weeks with no higher real aspiration than hosting the coin-flip wild card game at PNC Park. Now, they'd have to be really bad for this to be the case (I'm thinking that if they go 1-5, with the one win coming against the Brewers and not the Cardinals, that will probably leave them ~4 1/2 games out of first, give or take based on the outcome of the rest of the Cardinals/Reds series), but it's possible. That means that this is a legitimately huge series in that the Pirates have to play well this week in order for them to keep on having legitimately huge series.
Tonight, this six-game homestand opens up against the Brewers. The Brewers are not good, but they are not pushovers, either. They're 19-17 since the All-Star Break, which is just a hair worse than the Pirates (20-17). This three-game series will take place without Francisco Liriano or AJ Burnett taking the mound. It's nice to know they're waiting in the wings for the Cardinals, but every game is a big one when you're a half game out of first place. Jeff Locke, who has been terrible lately, takes the mound for the Pirates. Kyle Lohse goes for the Brewers. He's been quietly putting together a nice season and been really excellent of late, with a 2.05 ERA in seven starts since the break.
A win in this game would be a huge start to this homestand for the Pirates. The first pitch is at 7:05.