After the excitement of Monday’s night win and celebration, I was very calm while watching the Pirates game last night. It certainly helped that they got out to an early, Gerrit Cole again pitched very well, and the game never seemed in doubt. They more or less cruised to an 8-2 win. The Mets beat the Reds, so they gained a game on the Reds. The Cardinals beat the Nationals again, but so be it.
Going into this afternoon’s game against the Cubs, it was tough not to feel good. Especially with Francisco Liriano on the mound. It seemed like the Bucs would easily sweep the Cubs, and hold out for some help from the Mets and Nats.
For as calm as I was watching the game last night, all that went out the window watching today’s game.
Liriano only gave up one run until Darnell McDonald’s 3-run homer in the bottom of the 6th. McDonald had two hits off of Liriano before his at bat in the 6th. Why Liriano was left out there to face him when he was at/around 100 pitches is anyone’s guess. It seemed to be evident to everyone but Clint Hurdle that Liriano was struggling at that point and should maybe not be facing a guy who had already hit two off of him today.
The Reds lost to the Mets again, so the Pirates remain a game ahead of them. But for all intents and purposes, they are still essentially tied. The winner of this weekend’s series will get the Wild Card game at home. Had the Pirates won, they would have only needed one win in Cincinnati this weekend to secure home field for the WC game.
The division belongs to the Cardinals, so the Pirates will have four games total against the Reds to earn the right to play at least three more games. (Yes, I know the Pirates could sweep the Reds and the Cubs could sweep the Cards leading to a one-game playoff for the division, but neither of those things seem likely to happen).
For what it’s worth, I think Liriano is still the starter for the Wild Card game. It isn’t as though he got blown up today–he struggled, yes, but he shouldn’t have been left out there as long as he was. I still like how he matches up against the Reds lineup and he’ll be on full rest for the game.
Games like this do make me concerned for the Wild Card game. Really concerned. Hurdle has managed in the postseason before and has obviously done a good job with this team to this point. But when events transpire like they did this afternoon, the manager is of course going to get questioned about the decisions he made.
The Bucs are off tomorrow before heading to Cincinnati and I think we could all use a mental break before these next 3 games.