It’s always been said that the Pittsburgh Pirates really won’t compete until they figure out a way to defeat the rival Milwaukee Brewers on a consistent basis.
So for the Bucs, that’s really what the 2012 season all comes down to: being able to beat the Brewers.
Who would have thought two months ago that the Brewers could be the thorn in the side that would ultimately cost the Pirates a playoff spot, but that’s exactly what could be the case.
Milwaukee started the Bucs slide after the All-Star break by hammering James McDonald and beginning his regression all the way to the Bucs bullpen. They also swept the Bucs at Miller Park which started a horrific September.
So far after the break, the Bucs are only 1-5 against Milwaukee and the Brewers have proven to be the hurdle (pun intended) that Clint Hurdle’s team can’t get over.
But that can all change the next three days.
The Pirates begin their biggest series of the year Tuesday with three games at PNC Park against those pesky Brewers.
The Bucs aren’t used to having a series with playoff implications this late in the season, but that’s exactly what this is as each team sits only 2.5 games out of the NL’s final wild card spot.
Everything about this series points to bad news for the Pirates. They landed in Pittsburgh at 4:30 a.m. after last night’s (or this morning’s) rain-delayed win against the Cubs. The Brewers have been red hot, while the Pirates have been ice cold. Not to mention they have a 24-66 (.266) record against the Brewers since 2007. During that time the Bucs have gone only 7-44 at Miller Park (17-22 at PNC Park) and have been outscored overall by a whopping total of 531-344.
But none of those previous 90 games have the implications of the next three.
If the Pirates sweep the Brewers, they put themselves in a very good spot as far as the wild card is concerned. However if things go the other way, then you can pretty much call it a season.
More good news for the Pirates is that they will run A.J. Burnett, Kyle McPherson and Wandy Rodriguez to the bump, which are probably the three best pitchers to give them a chance to win this series.
What it all comes down to is that the Pirates are one day going to have to figure out the Brewers in order to really consider themselves contenders.
For Hurdle and this Pirates team, there’s no time like the present to unravel that mystery.