First Pitch: Wild Card Race Could Be Turning in Pirates Favor This Weekend

The Pirates had the day off on Thursday, but still benefitted in the Wild Card race. The Cardinals lost 8-1 to the Washington Nationals, bringing the Pirates to half a game back for the second spot. The Dodgers also lost, falling 2-0 to Arizona, and moving one game behind the Pirates.

At this point the Wild Card race looks like a three team race for the second spot, with Atlanta holding a three game lead in the first spot. The Pirates have a good chance to move back in to that second Wild Card spot this weekend. The Cardinals go up against the Nationals, playing Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, and Stephen Strasburg. And as if the Cardinals didn’t already have a rough series, they saw Rafael Furcal go down with an injury today, which could end his season.

By comparison, the Pirates go up against the Brewers, who didn’t have Thursday off, but instead played a four hour game, losing 12-11 in walk off fashion to the Cubs. The Pirates will have their best starters this weekend, sending Jeff Karstens, A.J. Burnett, and James McDonald. There’s a chance Karstens could miss his start, but the Pirates still have Burnett and McDonald. It’s never a guarantee against Milwaukee, especially on the road, but this is a good time to catch them with their bullpen taxed from Thursday.

The Pirates need to get to the Milwaukee starters, which is no easy task. Friday’s starter, Mark Rogers, threw five shutout innings in his start against the Pirates last week. Marco Estrada didn’t play the Pirates last week. The last time he faced them was July 14th, giving up three earned runs in 5.2 innings, so that could be an easier outing. The challenge will be Yovani Gallardo on Sunday, who always shows up with a big game against the Pirates.

They still have to play the games, so nothing is guaranteed. But on paper the Cardinals are slumping, have lost a key performer, and have a brutal three game pitching matchup this weekend. Meanwhile the Pirates go up against a team that has to be tired from yesterday’s game, with the Pirates throwing their best pitchers.That’s a favorable combination for the Pirates.

Links and Notes

**Prospect Notebook: Cole Impressed In Short Time With Altoona.

**Prospect Watch: Polanco Hits 16th Homer; Holt Picks Up Three More Hits.

**Toledo Beats Indians With Walk-Off Homer.

**Pirates Focus In-House, Rather Than Waiver Claims.

**Kyle McPherson and Alex Presley to Join Team in Milwaukee.

**Matt Curry Promoted to Triple-A.

**Dilson Herrera and Eric Wood Promoted to State College.

**DSL Pirates1 Advance to Dominican Summer League Championship.

**Starling Marte and Tim Wood Named to IL All-Star Team.

**Brock Holt Named Altoona MVP; Phil Irwin Altoona’s Pitcher of the Year.

**Polanco and Hanson Selected as 2012 SAL All-Stars.

**Minor League Schedule: 8/31/12.

About Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He is a credentialed media member with every team in the Pirates’ system, including the Pirates themselves. He’s a regular guest on Extra Innings on 104.7, and makes regular appearances on ESPN 970, 93.7 The Fan, and TribLIVE Radio in Pittsburgh, as well as ESPN 1430 in Altoona and ESPN 1450 in State College.
  • salempirate

    Hat tip to ARIZ. Not only did they beat the free spending Dodgers head to head but have a better overall record this month (I think).

  • Lee Young

    I hope you’re right, Tim.

  • piratemike

    “They still have to play the games”
    Truer words were never spoken.

  • Todd Smith

    The entire month of September looks to be in the Pirates favor. Dodgers have a tough road ahead, for sure.

    Pirates: Brewers, Astros, Cubs, Reds, Cubs, Brewers, Astros, Mets, Reds
    Cardinals: Nationals, Mets, Brewers, Padres, Dodgers, Astros, Cubs, Astros, Nationals
    Dodgers: D-Backs, Padres, Giants, D-Backs, Cardinals, Nationals, Reds, Padres, Rockies
    Braves: Phillies, Rockies, Mets, Brewers, Nationals, Marlins, Phillies, Marlins, Mets

  • Scott Shepherd

    I was thinking the same thing! Plus, it looks like Karstens is going to take his turn. Good news!

  • piratemike

    Like to revise that statement?

  • salempirate

    Thanks for posting.
    Looks like the Braves sail along. The Cards and Dodgers look to have their hands full. It’ll be no picnic for the Pirates, who can’t take anybody lightly and face the Reds and Brewers too much.