If the Pirates are going to somehow win the National League’s second wild card (they enter today 1 1/2 games behind the Braves and Brewers, both of whom are playing awfully lately), the easiest route to it would seem to be to beat up on the Cubs and Phillies, two teams with lousy records that the Pirates play ten times in the next ten days.
There is a problem with that plan: the Cubs really haven’t looked that terrible lately. They’ve won three in a row (the Pirates have lost four in a row) and six of ten (the Pirates have won four of ten). They’re creeping up on the flailing Reds in the division, and if this week doesn’t go well, they’ll be closer to the Pirates in the standings than the Pirates are to the Cardinals. Mostly, they’re doing this by crushing the baseball. Given the Pirates’ pitching staff and the location of this series at Wrigley Field, well, I’m actually really concerned about what’s going to happen. The Pirates are still a better team than the Cubs, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t like the way this series is lining up one bit.
Vance Worley and Tsuyoshi Wada are on the mound today. First pitch is at 2:20. The last chance playoff push for the Pirates officially starts today.