By virtue of playing good baseball earlier in the 2012 season, the Pirates have been lucky enough to play a bunch of Important Baseball Games over the course of the last month. The Pirates have lost most of these Important Baseball Games. If they can’t stop doing that, they won’t get very many more Important Baseball Games. In fact, tonight is pretty much the dividing line. It’s been fun and it’s been nice, but if the Pirates can’t scrape a win against the Cardinals tonight their playoff hopes are going to be on some pretty serious life-support.
I suppose it’s fitting then that James McDonald takes the mound for this game. His first-half breakthrough was a big reason why the Pirates got as far as they did in the playoff race and his second half breakdown is a big reason why they’re falling out of it. There’s been a lot of focus on the bullpen and on the trades made in August lately, but the reality is that the Pirates’ key performers have not been good of late and it’s really hard for a baseball team to win games when that happens. McDonald pitched a nice game in St. Louis a week and a half ago and his Jekyll-and-Hyde second half has had an every-other-start flavor to it; let’s hope the good J-Mac shows up at PNC Park tonight, let’s hope that those Andrew McCutchen line drives from last night find some more gaps, and let’s hope that this crazy thing continues for one more day.
McDonald goes up against Jake Westbrook. First pitch tonight is at 7:05.