The Pirates and Tigers were originally scheduled to play a 7:05 game tonight, but it’s been moved to 4:05 this afternoon, presumably because of FOX’s “Baseball Night in America,” which puts a few of FOX’s broadcasts this summer in primetime. I literally have no idea how this affects MLB.tv blackouts; I kind of assume the reasons the games have been shifted is to avoid that exact situation, but I can’t say that I know that for certain. I also don’t know what happens if the Pirates’ 4 PM game runs late into FOX’s broadcast window; there’s a decent chance that the game will suddenly be blacked out at the end of it if that happens. Of course, this only affects you if you’re outside of Pittsburgh, like me. If you’re in the viewing area, you presumably have nothing to worry about.
The Pirates’ ridiculously terrible offense will face off against Drew Smyly tonight. Smyly isn’t Justin Verlander, but he is a lefty that strikes out a ton of hitters and his career is off to quite a good start. Yesterday’s pregame post notwithstanding, I’m not in the business of predicting no-hitters since they’re one of baseball’s more unpredictable events. That being said, I think that pretty much any pitcher with a high strikeout rate has a better than normal chance to throw a no-hitter against the Pirates this year. Smyly does have at least one tough matchup tonight in Andrew McCutchen, who’s hot enough right now that Verlander practically admitted after the game that he pitched around him in the seventh with the no-hitter on the line. ‘Cutch is killing lefties right now, so the Pirates’ best chance against Smyly tonight may simply to be to get someone on base in front of him and hope that something good happens.
The Pirates have AJ Burnett on the mound tonight. He and Smyly are both from Arkansas, which is vaguely improbable (there are only seven Arkansans in baseball right now) and I’m sure you’ll hear about it quite a bit. The first pitch is at 4:05. The Pirates will probably get a hit tonight, but not definitely.