This feels insane to say out loud, but the Pirates are less than 70 hours removed from what was arguably one of their high points in the 2014 season. Partway through Sunday afternoons games, the Pirates lead the Reds 2-0 and the Cubs lead the Cardinals 5-0. With the Brewers struggling badly, it seemed like a real possibility at that point that the Pirates would end Sunday tied with the Cardinals and just one game behind the Brewers, with a chance to take at least a share of the NL Central lead by the end of today’s games.
Instead, the Pirates vomited up the 2-0 lead and lost to the Reds 3-2, while the Cardinals came back to beat the Cubs. On Monday, the Pirates vomited up another two-run lead, this time to the Cardinals. Last night, Jeff Locke dug the Pirates a whole they couldn’t dig out of. Instead of playing for a share of the NL Central today, the Pirates are fighting for their playoff lives, and the only reason they still have those is that the Brewers have now lost seven in a row. The Brewers are refusing to take the gift that’s been wrapped up for them by the Pirates’ pitching staff this week. This is the only gift that’s been offered up by the Pirates’ pitching staff that’s been refused by anyone in 2014. Even considering all that, the Pirates still find themselves two games behind the Brewers in the second wild card race. That’s not insignificant with fewer than 30 games left on the schedule.
The reality is this: if the Pirates lose again today and the Brewers somehow manage to win, the Pirates will be three games behind the Brewers with 23 games left on the schedule. That is a huge problem, even with three games left against the Brewers, even when we’re talking about a team as slump-prone as the Brewers are. Without saying that the game is a must-win or that the season is definitely over if the Pirates lose today, well, I dunno. You can go a long time avoiding using the term “must win” because there’s still time left, only to realize that there are no must-win games coming because the situation is hopeless.
Edinson Volquez starts today. He has been as good as just about any other Pirate starter lately. That is not as much of a compliment as I’d like it to be, though his last start was excellent. Shelby Miller starts for the Cardinals. The Pirates have never had much trouble with Shelby Miller.
First pitch is at 1:45.