Weekend Recap

The Pittsburgh Pirates closed within 5 games of the division lead again, sweeping the New York Mets over the weekend.

It puts them right back where they were exactly one week ago. They haven’t been closer than 5 back since after the games of July 29th, when they pulled within 4.5 games.

The St. Louis Cardinals won 2 out of 3 against the Miami Marlins and the Chicago Cubs had a 9-game winning streak upended although they still defeated the cross-town Chicago White Sox 2 out of 3 as well.

In the Wild Card chase, everybody’s pre-season pick to win the whole she-bang, the Washington Nationals, are now below .500 as they have dropped 6 straight games. Sweeping them over the weekend was the San Francisco Giants, who are now just 3.5 games behind the Cubs for the 2nd Wild Card spot.

* * * * * * * * *

The Cardinals now take on the Giants at home for a 3-game set starting this evening. Puts the Pirates and Cubs in an interesting situation, for sure. Trying to win the division still? Gotta’ root for the Giants. Want to just make sure you make the playoffs? Root for the Cards.

The Red Birds then head West for a 10-game trip on the Pacific coast, finishing this week against the San Diego Padres.

The Bucs are in the midst of a stretch in which they must play every day for 20 straight days. This week they have a 7-game home-stand against the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Giants.

The Cubs are also at home for their next 7 games. They take today off, then play two against the Detroit Tigers, four against the Atlanta Braves and one make-up game against the Cleveland Indians.

* * * * * * * * *

Cardinals center fielder Randal Grichuk is expected to undergo an MRI today, checking out some problems with his right (throwing) elbow that forced him out of yesterday afternoon’s game.

A popular name in the NL Rookie of the Year race, the 23-year old Grichuk is hitting .284 with 21 doubles, 7 triples and 15 homers in 85 games. He leads the team with an OPS+ of 140, 9 points higher than Matt Carpenter.

* * * * * * * * *

The Post-Gazette reports that starting pitcher A.J. Burnett (8-5, 3.06) is close to pitching off of a mound again as he recovers from a flexor strain in his right elbow.

Also close to returning from the DL for Pittsburgh is the left side of their infield, with both Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer expected back soon after making recent rehab starts at AAA.

Tonight’s Pirate starting pitcher, Gerrit Cole, is an interesting watch to me. In three August starts, he’s 0-2 with a 4.41 ERA, failing to go more than 6 innings in any start.

In his 5 prior starts, he had gone at least 6.2 innings each time out.

Cole threw 160.1 innings of pro ball last year and is up to 148.2 right now, so he’s closing in on his previous high. Is he fatigued?

I’m interested to see if he can rebound against Arizona.

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Division Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 75 42 L1
Pittsburgh Pirates 69 46 5.0 W4
Chicago Cubs 67 49 7.5 L1
Cincinnati Reds 51 65 23.5 L3
Milwaukee Brewers 51 68 25.0 W3

Wild Card Standings

W L GB
Pittsburgh Pirates 69 46 +2.5
Chicago Cubs 67 49
San Francisco Giants 64 53 3.5

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Schedule

57-59 Diamondbacks Hellickson (8-8, 4.73)
69-46 PIRATES Cole (14-6, 2.48)
6:05 PM CT
64-53 Giants Heston (11-7, 3.38)
75-42 CARDINALS Wacha (14-4, 2.93)
7:09 PM CT
47-70 Marlins Nicolino (1-1, 4.86)
51-68 BREWERS Garza (6-12, 4.82)
7:10 PM CT

* * * * * * * * *

National League Ranks

Batting Pitching
St. Louis 8th 1st
Pittsburgh 4th 3rd
Chicago 7th 5th
Cincinnati 10th 10th
Milwaukee 11th 11th
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