This is it

There is no need to discuss the stakes of this series, because you know them already. The five games the Pirates will play against the Cardinals over the next few days will not make or break the Pirates' season, but they may go a long ways towards deciding whether the Pirates can compete for a division title this year or not. They are about as important as pre-trade deadline baseball games get, and about as important as any games the Pirates have played in recent memory (fulling admitting that last year had some big games, too). Mostly, though, they're going to be fun. These kinds of series are what baseball is supposed to be about, and as Pirate fans we've had far too little of this for two decades. These five games are going to be stressful and nerve-wracking and fun

The Cardinals are starting Jake Westbrook tonight. The good news is that Westbrook really can't strike anyone out. Since strikeouts are the Pirates' offense's biggest weakness, I think I'll take my chances with an extreme groundball pitcher like Westbrook. Still, that doesn't mean Westbrook hasn't been pretty good this year. He's getting groundballs almost 60% of the time and he's only given up three homers in 88 1/3 innings, which is how he's got a 2.95 ERA with a 3.26 K/9. 

Francisco Liriano starts for the Pirates, which I think makes this a pretty favorable pitching matchup for the Bucs (I'd rather have Liriano facing Westbrook than Miller or Wainwright). He was fantastic in his last start against the Nats, and I'm guessing the Pirates will need Good Liriano tonight. It's worth noting that the Cardinals have been the anti-Pirates with runners in scoring position this year. I say they're due for some bad luck. 

First pitch tonight is at 7:05. 

Pat Lackey

About Pat Lackey

In 2005, I started a WHYGAVS instead of working on organic chemistry homework. Many years later, I've written about baseball and the Pirates for a number of sites all across the internet, but WHYGAVS is still my home. I still haven't finished that O-Chem homework, though.

This is it

The second place Pittsburgh Pirates are in Cincinnati to play the first place Reds. In August. This is what we Pirate fans have been waiting for since at least 1997 and probably since 1992. This is real, meaningful baseball. It’s here. 

Wandy Rodriguez gets the ball for the Pirates. Mat Latos gets it for the Reds. Latos is having a pretty strong first season with the Reds, but he’s got a home run problem (20 in 127 1/3 innings). The Pirates hit home runs like pretty much no one else. Rodriguez had a decent but shaky first start with the Pirates, but this is his first start that doesn’t come against his old teammates in Houston. I imagine that the pressure on this one is probably nothing compared to the weirdness of making his first Pirate start against the Astros. 

First pitch is 7:10. 

Pat Lackey

About Pat Lackey

In 2005, I started a WHYGAVS instead of working on organic chemistry homework. Many years later, I've written about baseball and the Pirates for a number of sites all across the internet, but WHYGAVS is still my home. I still haven't finished that O-Chem homework, though.

This is it

It wasn’t all that long ago that we were all hoping that Pirate games would still have meaning at this point in 2011. Now, the best the Pirates can do tonight is beat the Brewers and try to force them into a first round playoff matchup with the Phillies or at least on the road, but that sort of thing is only partially in their hands. Because this game does still matter for the Brewers at least a little bit, Zack Greinke is going to start and presumably pitch six or seven or eight innings, rather than getting a couple innings of work in and bailing. Ryan Braun needs to go 3-for-3 to win the NL batting title. I really hope that doesn’t happen. 

When tomorrow comes, we can talk about what this season means and what happened in August and what the future holds for the Pirates, but for tonight there is just this. One more game. Jeff Locke gets one more shot to get his first big league win and make a non-disappointing start in 2011, though he’ll presumably have more chances to do so at some point in 2012 if he doesn’t do it tonight. 

The last first pitch of the year is at 8:10 tonight. It’s been a pleasure sharing the season with all of you, as always.  

Pat Lackey

About Pat Lackey

In 2005, I started a WHYGAVS instead of working on organic chemistry homework. Many years later, I've written about baseball and the Pirates for a number of sites all across the internet, but WHYGAVS is still my home. I still haven't finished that O-Chem homework, though.

This is it

I’m normally kind of sad when the baseball season ends, but I think it’s fair to say that I won’t miss the 2010 season when it’s over. With the Steelers and Ravens playing and a three-way tie looming in the National League, I won’t hold it against you if you don’t take in much of this game. Anibal Sanchez and Brian Burres close things out at 1:10 this afternoon. Season recapping, including the fate of John Russell, begins tonight.

Pat Lackey

About Pat Lackey

In 2005, I started a WHYGAVS instead of working on organic chemistry homework. Many years later, I've written about baseball and the Pirates for a number of sites all across the internet, but WHYGAVS is still my home. I still haven't finished that O-Chem homework, though.

This is it

I’m normally kind of sad when the baseball season ends, but I think it’s fair to say that I won’t miss the 2010 season when it’s over. With the Steelers and Ravens playing and a three-way tie looming in the National League, I won’t hold it against you if you don’t take in much of this game. Anibal Sanchez and Brian Burres close things out at 1:10 this afternoon. Season recapping begins tonight.

Pat Lackey

About Pat Lackey

In 2005, I started a WHYGAVS instead of working on organic chemistry homework. Many years later, I've written about baseball and the Pirates for a number of sites all across the internet, but WHYGAVS is still my home. I still haven't finished that O-Chem homework, though.

Pedro at BP

This is it

Pedro at BPSince Neal Huntington took over as Pirates’ GM in late 2007 I get one quesiton a lot: “When? When will the Pirates be good again? What are they building towards?” I’ve never had an answer, because it’s not something that’s apparent. When you start a book, you never know how long it will take to read until you’ve gotten a good hundred pages in. What’s the prose like? Is it full of endnotes? Was it translated into English? Is it interesting? But after 100 pages, you can answer those questions and figure out how long the remaining pages will take you to read.

So here we are. Pedro Alvarez is here. Andrew McCutchen is here. If the Pirates are ever going to pull out of the rut they’re mired in, these two are going to do the heaviest pulling. There’s still a lot of work to be done and I still can’t give an exact date or say that the Pirates will be a good team in 2012 or 2013 or 2014. But I can finally give a real window. If it’s going to happen in the foreseeable future, it’s going to happen with Pedro Alvarez and Andrew McCutchen. There’s no other way it can happen.

Forget the record, forget the losing streak, forget Bobby Crosby in the starting lineup, forget it all, sit back, and watch Pedro Alvarez tonight. Watch the ball leap off his bat when he makes contact. Watch his swing. Enjoy it. Remember that things only end once and what happens before then is just progress. Tonight, we get to see progress. Forget for a night about what’s left to be done and really, truly appreciate a lineup with four starters under the age of 25. A lineup with a third baseman that could drop a ball in the Allegheny River on a moment’s notice and a center fielder whose ceiling is so high that we still can’t see it.

Tomorrow, we can go back to wondering about Pedro’s strikeouts, about learning curves and talent evaluation, about signing draft picks and international budgets and player development, about who the hell is in charge of this front office. But tonight, enjoy this debut and think about how far the franchise has come since the day Rajai Davis was traded for Matt Morris. It’s progress.

The first pitch of the Pedro Alvarez era is at 7:05. Zach Duke and John Danks are on the mound. Clemente/Cangelosi is after the jump. Photo: Pat Lackey, WHYGAVS.com

Not sure what this is? Check here and here. Short version: in the comments pick the Pirates you think will be most and least valuable in today’s game. If you haven’t jumped aboard yet, it’s been a lot of fun so far and now’s as good a time as any to join in.

When Andrew McCutchen Clementes, that’s usually a good night for people. And when Ryan Church Cangelosis, that’s usually a good night for people. So we were two for two last night, as ‘Cutch’s three hits made him Clemente and Church’s usual ofer made him Cangelosi runner up to Brad Lincoln.

There’s lots of movement in the standings between Brian in second place and Woodward and ND Brian tied for fifth, but no one’s making up ground on Don atop the leaderboard. Can someone make things interesting? I’m thinking of rolling the scoreboard over at Game 81 and doing a second half competition, with occasional updates on the full-season leaderboard. If no one challenges Don in the next few weeks, I think that might be the way to go.

Anyways, here are the standings:

  1. Don_Madden: 36
  2. brian2: 23
  3. North Shore Ryan: 22
  4. dafletch: 21
  5. Woodward, ndbrian: 20
  6. Carnegie Chip: 18
  7. J. Latrobe: 17
  8. hisjazziness, pdiddy0020: 15
  9. Wizard of Woz, michaelbro8, Garrett 122: 14
  10. hwtrine68: 13
  11. michaelbro8, whygavs: 12
  12. Mornacale:9
  13. UtesFan890, bwzimmerman, dboz: 8
  14. apk: 7
  15. TuckerD13, edgeman2k, Dave Mesing, Nate: 6
  16. TheHulk, WallyR, Cecelio_Guante, Nate: 5
  17. TomKaikis, Joek, tylerrcurtis, TheJewelryMan!, fruitbat: 3
  18. PatrickHealy, MattB, SteelCity66, BadAndy, spazaru, Adam_Reynolds, Mr. Ando, cocktailsfor2, appeal2smail, Polish Prodigy, hilltoppeer: 2
  19. FSU Bucs, Christy, appeal2smail, SeanGentile, shsteimer, TheHulk, Traco Bucco, Tate, Neopold, IndianaJohns04, wk kortas, jac8, Mr. Ando,  DoctorGeeves, CoryR: 1
  20. Everyone else: 0
  21. NSN, Mosca, danatural, Teflon, John Sparrow, matt w, Fielding Yost, PHook4000: -1
Pat Lackey

About Pat Lackey

In 2005, I started a WHYGAVS instead of working on organic chemistry homework. Many years later, I've written about baseball and the Pirates for a number of sites all across the internet, but WHYGAVS is still my home. I still haven't finished that O-Chem homework, though.

This is it

Jeff Karstens and the bullpen guys rock out at 1:10 against Homer Bailey and the Reds. I’d love one more win so that it doesn’t seem like we missed 100 losses on a rainout technicality, even though we were winning on Thursday night. My season in review is about halfway done and will go up tonight after the final recap of the season.

Pat Lackey

About Pat Lackey

In 2005, I started a WHYGAVS instead of working on organic chemistry homework. Many years later, I've written about baseball and the Pirates for a number of sites all across the internet, but WHYGAVS is still my home. I still haven't finished that O-Chem homework, though.

This is it

Keeping in mind that I’m being rather dramatic here, I think tonight’s game is the most important game of the season for the Pirates. The Nationals are bad enough that the first pick in the draft is well out of our reach, but if we split this series with them we’re going to have to hear endlessly how this team was “just as bad as the Nationals” after the trade deadline, and this series will be cited as proof if we lose tonight and split. I don’t think this team, even as currently configured, is worse than the Nats and I don’t want to hear about it all winter, so I think we have to win tonight.

Charlie Morton gets the start for the Pirates against a gentleman named Garrett Mock. I know next to nothing about Mock (literally, the very first time I’ve ever heard his name was looking up the lineups right now … I’m not kidding), but his stats and his role in the Nationals rotation lead me to deduce that he’s not a very good pitcher (this sort of reasoning is why they let me into grad school, I assume). Of course, that’s a double-edged sword. Our bad offense has made the worst of the worst look good this year. Hopefully, that won’t happen again.

Pat Lackey

About Pat Lackey

In 2005, I started a WHYGAVS instead of working on organic chemistry homework. Many years later, I've written about baseball and the Pirates for a number of sites all across the internet, but WHYGAVS is still my home. I still haven't finished that O-Chem homework, though.

This is it

This is it. Maybe it’s too early to say that a certain set of games is a defining stretch for a baseball team, but the Pirates need some wins against the Reds this weekend. Three straight losses against the Brewers has really taken the air out of the tires on the Pirate bandwagon, but Zach Duke (the Pirates’ best pitcher this year) goes against Bronson Arroyo (a guy the Pirates have hit well recently) at PNC Park tonight. Nate McLouth makes his return to the starting lineup tonight, and hopefully he can give a jolt to an offense that was depantsed by Yovani Gallardo two days ago. If this year is going to be any different at all than past years, the Pirates need a win tonight.

Pat Lackey

About Pat Lackey

In 2005, I started a WHYGAVS instead of working on organic chemistry homework. Many years later, I've written about baseball and the Pirates for a number of sites all across the internet, but WHYGAVS is still my home. I still haven't finished that O-Chem homework, though.

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