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 Post subject: Whom to root for - August 25-28, 2014
PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2014 4:32 pm 
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Joined: Sun Apr 27, 2008 2:11 pm
Posts: 5620
Location: 120 miles west of Iowa City
All right . . . good weekend . . . would have preferred a sweep but 2/3 the rest of the way will have the Pirates deep in playoff contention. The Cardinals lost a series to the lowly Phillies. The Braves lost a series to the dying Reds. The Giants lost a series to the red hot Nationals. Bucs took care of its own business and ended up picking up a game on all four playoff contending teams. I'll take it. Grind it out . . .

As of right now, with 32 games left in the schedule, here's how the boys in black-and-gold stack up against the competition:

DIVISIONAL RACE
Winning the series in Milwaukee keeps the Divisional Race analysis in play for at least one more series.

Brewers: The Pirates have played the same number of games as the Brewers and are trailing the Brewers by 5 games in the loss column. They have 3 head to head games remaining. To have any legitimate chance of catching the Brewers, they need to win at least 2 of the final 3. The Pirates trail the season series to the Brewers 5-11. Thus, the Brewers have clinched the advantage in any tiebreaker.
Cardinals: The Pirates have played one more game than the Cardinals and are trailing the Cardinals by 4 games in the loss column. They have 6 head to head games left, with a 3 game set starting tonight. Again, the Pirates can't push against the Cardinals. They need to win at least 4 of the final 6. The Pirates trail the season series to the Cardinals 6-7.

WILDCARD RACE
Giants: The Pirates have played one game more than the Giants and trail the Giants in the loss column by 2 games. They have no more games against one another. The Pirates won the season series 4-2 and hold a tiebreak advantage over the Giants.
Braves: The Pirates have played the same number of games as the Braves and are tied with the Braves in the loss column. The Braves lead the season series 2-1. They have four more head-to-head games (in Atlanta) in the last week of the season.
Cardinals: The Pirates have played one more game than the Cardinals and are trailing the Cardinals by 4 games in the loss column. They have 6 head to head games left, with a 3 game set starting tonight. Again, the Pirates can't push against the Cardinals. They need to win at least 4 of the final 6. The Pirates trail the season series to the Cardinals 6-7.

UPCOMING THREE DAYS:

After a less than promising start to the series on Friday night and a disheartening short appearance performance by Strasburg yesterday, the Nationals helped the cause by taking 2 of 3 games from the Giants this weekend. The Giants head back home to face the Rockies in a four game set. The Rockies are sporting the worst record in the National League (52-77). However, in my never ending effort to try to find positives and be hopeful, I note that the Giants have lost 7 of their 11 games against the Rockies this year, including going 2-4 in San Francisco. I'm choosing to ignore the fact that those games were in May and June and that the Rockies were getting MVP like performances from Tulo and CarGo was in the linuep. The Rockies did just take 2 of 3 from Miami who was on the periphery of wildcard contention . . . so . . . perhaps the Rockies can continue to play spoiler. At risk of being overly repetitive, for the Bucs to have a realistic wildcard shot, the Giants need to flounder against teams they should be beating. Of note, when the Giants are done playing the Rockies, they will have 29 games left (same as the Pirates). A Pirate series win against the Cardinals and a Rockies/Giants split would get the Pirates to within one game of the Giants.

The Braves get tonight off and draw the Mets in New York for a three game series on Tuesday - Thursday. The off-night likely results from the Mets having to travel from L.A. after taking 1 of 3 games in Chavez Ravine. About the most positive news that I can find about this series is that the Mets will throw Gee, Wheeler and Niese in the three games. All of them are sporting a less than 4.00 ERA. Also, the Braves have struggled offensively for much of the season. I'm hoping that we get to see three strong outings from the Mets' starters and that the Mets' offense can put up runs like they did on Sunday (ignoring the fact that the Mets roughed up Kevin Correia). The Braves have to be disappointed that they lost a series to the dying Reds and I'm hoping that the Braves are road weary and stay up too late in the Big Apple. We need the Mets to take at least one of these games. As a FYI, the Braves are 7-6 against the Mets this year and both teams have scored 47 runs against one another. There is reason to have some hope . . .

The Brewers head west to face the Padres. The Brewers have won 2 of the 3 games played at Miller Park. I've been to Petco and I've been to Miller and, frankly Senator, Petco is no Miller. The Brewers draw Ross on Tuesday night. That may prove to be a tough matchup. I'm hoping that the free-swinging Brewers' offense is stymied by Petco Park and the Padres provide a little help to the guys in black-and-gold. Its not a particularly great match-up and the Brewers are 36-27 on the road; pretty damn good. The Brewers draw the Giants after the Padres' series while the Cardinals draw the Cubs. Believe me . . the Brewers are likely aware of this and here's hoping that they play tight with the Cardinals breathing down their necks.

Let's also hope that the Pirates can cut the Brewers some slack over the next three nights by beating up on the Cardinals. The Cardinals' offense is not particularly strong. They don't score as much as the Pirates but they have less "extreme" results. Looking pretty hard at Liriano and Cole taking the bull by the horns over the next two nights with Waino on the mound on Wednesday. We need Liriano to rebound and give a playoff performance and Cole to brandish that well-rested weapon of his. The Cardinals played absolutely uninspiring baseball against the Phillies and were damn close to getting swept. A quick start tonight by the Bucs could result in some very entertaining results. I don't know why but I'm feeling decent about this series. Its a must win series. Have to win at least 2 games. Getting the first game is, IMO, huge. I'm already chewing my nails thinking about it.

My "realistic" hopes for the standings on Friday morning?
Bucs within 4 of the Brewers and 3 of the Cardinals in the loss column.
Bucs within 1 game of the Giants in the loss column and ahead of the Braves by 1 in the loss column.

Fingers are crossed. Baby steps . . . baby steps towards the playoffs.

_________________
Reflexively, obsessively and tastelessly submitted,
No. 9
Obsessive proponent of situational bunting and 2 strike hitting approaches, reflexively pro-catchers calling good games and tasteless proponent of the value of a RBI.


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