PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) – Back and forth.
And back and forth.
And back and forth some more.
Seemingly that is what the Pirates’ have done to us all season — reeled us in, kept our interest with a run of decent play at times and then other times forced us to want to quit on them and ask when the Steelers start for good.
Here is what I got for you: This is it. We are here. It is the absolute tipping point right now. Today is the crossroads.
If the Pirates — going into play tonight 58-62 and 5.5 games behind in the National League Central — don’t sweep the St. Louis Cardinals in this upcoming four-game series, the season is officially over.
Done and finished.
All eyes on the pigskin.
Yep. There it is.
A split won’t do and winning three of four won’t do — between now and Sunday the Pirates need to win all four games they play against the Cardinals or you can kiss any hopes at a postseason bid goodbye.
Certainly there is cause for concern with the Pirates’ recent run of play, as they stumbled through Toronto and Milwaukee and have lost four in a row — the latest of which a home run barrage in Brew Town on Wednesday afternoon. But with the Cardinals coming to town for three (and that one in Williamsport), all hope is not lost. St. Louis has lost three in a row, their starting pitching has scuffled and the last time the Cardinals were in town the Pirates won a couple games in exciting, walk-off fashion. The Cards can be decked, they aren’t insurmountable.
But there is no denying the Pirates’ struggles since the All-Star break as they have scored the second-fewest runs in the National League in that span, Gregory Polanco is shelved with that gimpy hamstring and Starling Marte has produced next-to-nothing since his return from a PED suspension.
It’s tough to tell what will happen in this series against the Cardinals as the Pirates have been such an up and down team this season. Heck, that is probably their only mark of consistency — inconsistency.
But I know one thing for sure — or at least it is my steadfast opinion — if the Bucs don’t sweep this four-gamer against the Cardinals, you can strike up The Steeler Polka and turn your full attention across the parking lots on the North Shore. Because, if the Pirates don’t sweep, any hopes at the NL Central are done.
Colin Dunlap is a featured columnist at CBSPittsburgh.com. He can also be heard weekdays from 5:40 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Sports Radio 93-7 “The Fan.” You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out his bio here.