Remember all of the talk early on about how tough the Pirates schedule was from the beginning of the season until mid-May?
The schedule makers did them no favors early and it was no coincidence that the Bucs struggled out of the gate.
However if the Pirates are to remain in the pennant race, those same schedule makers did them a ton of favors the rest of the season.
Beginning with Friday night’s loss against the Milwaukee Brewers, the first place Buccos play their first 19 games after the All-Star break against teams currently under the .500 mark.
All in all, the Pirates second half schedule sees teams with a combined .462 winning percentage.
In addition, their longest road trip is a 10-game stretch from July 26 through August 5 that features trips to Houston, Chicago and Cincinnati.
West coast trips? Only three games remain out west and those are against the San Diego Padres.
The Bucs have only eight series remaining against teams over .500 right now and only twice do they play back-to-back series against winning teams.
In mid-August the Pirates will face the Los Angeles Dodgers and then travel to St. Louis.
However if the race is close, the Bucs finish the season with the toughest part of their remaining schedule, playing four in New York, followed by a six-game home stand against the Reds and Atlanta Braves.
There have been talks of a possible collapse like the Pirates had in 2011, but the schedule should be easy enough to not only prevent that, but also keep them in the playoff chase for the remaining of the 2012 campaign.