Welcome to tonight’s edition of the biggest game of the year

I really hate dwelling on bad losses while there’s still a playoff race. I mean, the last two days have sureyl both been deflating days to be a Pirate fan and the Pirates’ situation in said pennant race is awfully precarious because of how these two games have gone, but if the Pirates close this series with the Cardinals out with two wins, Monday’s loss will seem well behind the club in the rear view mirror when they move on to Chicago. Win or don’t, but don’t let whatever happens in each individual game carry over.

The Pirates were not in such a different situation last Wednesday; they had taken two of three from the Brewers, then lost the last game to the Brewers and first game to the Cardinals in frustrating fashion, making it seem like were only a loss or two away from everything careening out of control. They responded with four straight wins.

The Pirates really, really, really, really, really need to find a way to win these last two games in St. Louis this week if they’re going to win the NL Central. I feel like that’s the sort of thing that goes without saying, but also is well-worth repeating. Crunch time has arrived and the only way to be sure of making games up in the standings is to beat teams head-to-head. These are the Pirates’ last two games against the Cardinals from here on out. I don’t know about you, but I don’t really trust the Pirates or the Cardinals to play the baseball required for the Pirates to be three games better than the Cardinals over the season’s last 23 games once these two teams part, so much of the work has to be done right here and right now.

Jeff Locke is starting for the Pirates tonight. I never know what to expect out of Locke when he takes the mound these days; sometimes his control is there and he looks good, sometimes it’s not and he looks awful. He looked good against the Cardinals last week (7 1/3 innings, one run on six scattered hits, two walks, three strikeouts), so hopefully that’s something he can build on tonight. He’s facing Adam Wainwright, who hasn’t been himself lately. Despite that, he managed to bear down against the Pirates after giving them a 3-0 lead when he faced them last Thursday, and he got through his six innings with only those three runs (two on an Ike Davis monster homer) allowed. That start felt a lot like Lance Lynn’s start from yesterday; the Pirates didn’t have a ton of runs, but it seemed like they could have. The Pirates have, in general, been having trouble breaking through and putting crooked numbers on the board lately, so maybe seeing a struggling Wainwright twice in a week will help them reverse that trend.

There’s not much news with the Pirates’ lineup tonight, unless you consider Andrew Lambo starting over Gregory Polanco to be news. I’m sure Polanco will see the field now that he’s back with the Bucs, but he didn’t really look all that great in his minor league stint with Indianapolis. Lambo, meanwhile, has squared up a few balls nicely in his short time with the Pirates. Presumably, the bullpen will be packed full with the today’s minor league call-ups, and since, as I mentioned earlier, it looks like the Pirates could be eyeing both John Holdzkom and Bobby LaFromboise for playoff roles, I wouldn’t be surprised to see either guy in a big situation tonight. I suppose all we can do now is wait and see.

First pitch tonight is at 8:15. The only thing on the line tonight is the whole season.

Image: mario, Flickr

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.