This season is all about finding small victories when watching the Pirates. You ignore the blowout losses and look at the few players who played well in the games, who might provide hope for the future. You ignore Mitch Keller’s ERA, and look at the much lower xFIP and his amazing strikeout numbers, and dream about him figuring it out.
Toward the end of the season, the small victory focus has been on getting the best possible draft pick, which has been helped by the Pirates losing nine in a row down the stretch.
But now they face the Cubs — a team that is currently four games out of the Wild Card spot, thanks in part to the Pirates getting swept by the Brewers. And what better small victory could you find than being the team that eliminates the Cubs from the playoffs?
I don’t think the Pirates need to do anything to help the Brewers out. The elimination number for the Cubs is three, which means any combination of three Brewers wins or Cubs losses over the final week will result in the Cubs being eliminated. Even if the Cubs win out, the Brewers just need to win three of their games this week to clinch the playoffs.
But there’s a very real scenario where the Cubs could be eliminated in Pittsburgh this week, and what a sweet victory that would be. That very real scenario involves the Pirates winning a game, which kind of goes against the chances of the “very real” designation with the way they’ve played lately. But that might also make it that much more enjoyable.
Think of it this way. The Cubs are entering this week needing to win almost every game, and needing the Brewers to have a horrible week. They can’t control how the Brewers play, but they do have a fairly easy schedule on paper to benefit their side. They’ve got the Pirates — losers of nine straight and one of the worst teams in the league — followed by the Cardinals, who might have the division wrapped up by this weekend, with nothing to play for.
How nice would it be to see the Pirates surprise by winning at least one game, essentially destroying the Cubs’ hopes early? Especially when the Cubs beat the Pirates by a score of 47-15 in a three game series just two weeks ago. It would be a great spoiler moment, and in a season where Pirates fans are starved for things to cheer for, this would be the equivalent of a feast.
The best part? The series starts tonight with Mitch Keller on the mound, giving two potential small victories to focus on in one game.
John Dreker will have our Bradenton Marauders recap this afternoon. We’ll also have any news that comes up, and the live game discussion.
We’ve also got an update to yesterday’s international signing, with some new info we found on the new player from Australia.
SONG OF THE DAY
Here’s one of my favorites from one of my favorite bands.
Name the top 25 Pirates of all time.
THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY
By John Dreker
Seven former Pittsburgh Pirates players have been born on this date, including a few very recent players. From the youngest to oldest, we have:
Travis Ishikawa, first baseman for the 2014 Pirates, who would rejoin the team late in the 2015 season. He hit .217 in 53 games with the Pirates. Ishikawa also had two stints with the Giants during his eight-year career.
Jeff Karstens, pitcher from 2008 until 2012. Was signed by the Pirates for 2013, but missed the entire year due to injury. Karstens went 23-35, 4.31 in 82 starts and 41 relief appearances.
John McDonald, middle infielder for the 2013 Pirates. Hit .065 in 16 games. He played a total of 16 years in the majors, seeing time with eight different teams.
Jim Mangan, catcher for the Pirates in 1952 and 1954. He hit .179 over 25 games. Mangan played a total of 45 big league games over three seasons (1956 Giants), but he batted just 67 times and played a total of six complete games in the majors.
Dixie Walker, outfielder for the 1948-49 Pirates. He hit .306 over 18 seasons, with 1,037 runs scored, 1,023 RBIs, 2,064 hits and an .820 OPS. Led the NL in triples in 1937, average in 1944 and RBIs in 1945. Played in four All-Star games and got MVP votes in eight different seasons. Walker was acquired from the Dodgers as part of a six-player deal on December 8,1947.
Paddy Siglin, second baseman for the Pirates from 1914 until 1916. He played just 23 games over his three seasons, hitting .180 with nine singles. Played over 2,000 games in the minors.
Bob Vail, pitcher for the 1908 Pirates. Joined the team late in the year and made one start and three relief appearances, allowing ten runs over 15 innings.
On this date in 1913, the Pirates won 3-2 over the Cubs to move to 76-68 on the season, all but securing them their 15th straight winning season. Due to multiple rain outs, they ended up playing just five more games that season, finishing with a 78-71 record. They would fall below .500 in 1914, breaking the still-standing longest winning stretch in team history. Here’s the boxscore from September 24, 1913.