The Cardinals played earlier today and lost, which means that a Pirate win this afternoon pulls the Pirates back to within 1 1/2 games of St. Louis with the Pirates hosting the Cubs (3-7 in their last 10) this weekend while the Cards host the Brewers (8-2). I was being serious last night when I said that I thought a five-game winning streak would put the Pirates back on top of the wild card race. A win this evening will put the Bucs well on their way to testing that prediction.
Of course, to win tonight the Pirates will be batting Clint Barmes second and starting Kevin Correia on the pitcher's mound; both of these things work against the Pirates' functional chances to win a baseball game. Brock Holt batting leadoff against a lefty makes me nervous, too. The one thing that the Pirates have going for them here is the Astros, who have a roster full of players that I had no idea where even fringe Major Leaguers and are starting Fernando Abad, who's served up six taters in 31 2/3 innings with the Astros this year. This isn't a "must-win" game in the strictest sense for the Pirates, but it's definitely one of those games that they'd be much, much better off winning than losing (this is pretty much true for every game from here on out; they should really just stop losing).
First pitch tonight is at 7:05.