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Thread: Pirates Are Gearing Up For The Series Against Cardinals

      
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    Default Pirates Are Gearing Up For The Series Against Cardinals

    Bucs not caught up in hype for series vs. Cards
    By Jenifer Langosch / MLB.com | 07/21/11 1:19 PM ET

    PITTSBURGH -- All attempts to convince the Pirates that their upcoming series against the Cardinals -- one that begins at 7:05 pm ET at PNC Park on Friday -- is worth a hint of extra hype was met with full-force resistance.

    If they believe otherwise, they won't come clean. If there's pressure, it's not evident. Actually, it's become frustratingly dry hearing the same lines -- ones explicitly taken from the mouth of their manager -- spit out over and over and over. The variation is laughably limited.

    Prompted into admitting that there's some additional anticipation surrounding St. Louis' visit, no one budged.

    "We'll be prepared for Friday and not look past Friday," right-hander Jeff Karstens said. "It's one game at a time, like we've always talked about."

    Still, it can at least be a defining series in an already improbable season, right?
    "We don't look forward to stuff like that," said closer Joel Hanrahan. "Our goal has been the same goal -- go out there and win the series. We don't worry about who we're playing."

    Sure, but in a tight division race, don't these games inherently carry some added significance?

    "I think we treat each game equally," pitcher Charlie Morton answered. "It's not like the Reds weren't a good team."

    Well, never mind. That's not going anywhere.

    But perhaps it's that spot-on naivety that has put the Pirates in position to even have what everyone else can freely -- and accurately -- label as a critical three-game series. This team remains unfazed by the influx of recent media attention and is undeterred when, on paper, it appears entirely overmatched.
    Quite frankly, the Pirates are acting as if they have been here before -- making a chase at a division title nearly four months into the season. It's a bold perspective when you consider it comes from members of an organization that hasn't finished above .500 since Bill Clinton was elected president -- the first time.

    But it's also working.

    "If we start putting pressure on ourselves because of who we're playing, it's not conducive to playing well. It's just putting pressure on ourselves," Morton said. "We weren't putting undo pressure on ourselves early in the year. There is no reason to start now. We know what's going on."

    As do the Cardinals, who, regardless of how they fare Thursday, will begin play on Friday still trailing the Pirates in what has evolved into a perplexing and intriguing four-team race in the National League Central.

    Not since 1999 has St. Louis finished a season looking up at Pittsburgh in the standings. You'd have to go back seven additional years to find the last time the Cardinals traveled to Pittsburgh this late in the season and engaged in a series that was meaningful to both teams.

    Arriving in Pittsburgh on July 30, 1992, trailing the first-place Pirates by 4 1/2 games, the Cardinals were swept in the four-game set. The Pirates went on to win the National League East. St. Louis never recovered to get any closer than eight games behind them.

    Memories of that 1992 season are evoked regularly in Pittsburgh these days, though it's highly unlikely that any member of these two clubs knows anything about that series 19 years ago. Nor should they care.

    The reality now is that these two teams will face each other 16 times this season, and only three of those matchups have already taken place. That sets up for an exciting next 10 weeks in which the Pirates will play 29 games against the three other NL Central contenders. The Cardinals have 25 such games of their own, though they're not looking past the first three.

    "They're legitimate," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said of the Pirates. "They're pitching well, they're competing. Their young guys are now into their second or third or fourth year. They're coming together. Their closer is really as good as anybody out there right now, which is another key feature for being a legitimate team."
    The Pirates have embraced the transition from hunter to hunted, and it's happened one year after the team actually prided itself in helping to begin the Cardinals' demise.

    Pittsburgh took two of three against the Cardinals late last August in the first series of a critical three-city road swing for St. Louis. By the time the Cardinals returned to Pittsburgh a month later, they found themselves already out of the division race.

    The Pirates ended up winning that series, too.

    Now making the stop in Pittsburgh on the tail end of a three-city trip, the Cardinals view this as an opportunity to make their own statement.

    "Nobody thought that Charlie Morton was going to be Roy Halladay or Jeff Karstens was going to be Roy Oswalt," said St. Louis outfielder Lance Berkman. "You just didn't project that. But they've certainly done it. And, hey, it is what it is ... and we've got to try to catch them."

    The Cardinals, who have played near .500 baseball on the road this season, will attempt to become the first road team to win a series in Pittsburgh since the Braves swept a two-game set May 24-25. The Pirates have won nine of their last 12 home games and, as has become the norm during recent weekend series, they are expecting to face the Cardinals in front of three sellout crowds.
    "The fans make it into a big series, and I'm sure that's going to happen this weekend," Hanrahan said. "It's been an electric atmosphere. It's going to be an exciting weekend to be at the ballpark."

    Exciting, yes. And for a change, meaningful, as well.

    Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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    Default Re: Pirates Are Gearing Up For The Series Against Cardinals

    On a side note, I was just informed, came into tickets for Saturday's game as part of a tailgate with some folks from the wife's work, so I'm pretty pumped up right now. We decided against other plans to do the Bucco's game I was buming since an chance i have to get to the ballpark is taken by having some other plan
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kipper View Post
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    On a side note, I was just informed, came into tickets for Saturday's game as part of a tailgate with some folks from the wife's work, so I'm pretty pumped up right now. We decided against other plans to do the Bucco's game I was buming since an chance i have to get to the ballpark is taken by having some other plan
    Have fun!!! I'm here in NY watching on MLB TV!!! Ice cold one in hand!!! Go Buccos!!!
    "People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball. I'll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring."-Rogers Hornsby

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    Default Re: Pirates Are Gearing Up For The Series Against Cardinals

    Quote Originally Posted by BXBUCCOS View Post
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    Have fun!!! I'm here in NY watching on MLB TV!!! Ice cold one in hand!!! Go Buccos!!!
    Hecks yeah, I'm pretty pumped. I was averaging a couople opf games per month last season which was pretty good considering I can only make weekend games. this year I've had so many weekends filled I've only gotten to 1 **** game (Pittsburgh Sports Tavern Tailgate), so I feel very deprived. It's makde me more pumped for tomorrows game
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    Default Re: Pirates Are Gearing Up For The Series Against Cardinals

    Gearing up for the Cards is one thing...seems Paul didn't get geared up for Clu Haywood....he just destroys us!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kipper View Post
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    On a side note, I was just informed, came into tickets for Saturday's game as part of a tailgate with some folks from the wife's work, so I'm pretty pumped up right now. We decided against other plans to do the Bucco's game I was buming since an chance i have to get to the ballpark is taken by having some other plan
    $12 buckets of Miller Lite at McFaddens on game day.

    Just sayin...

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    Quote Originally Posted by vandelay industries View Post
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    $12 buckets of Miller Lite at McFaddens on game day.

    Just sayin...
    Im doing a tailgate so beer will be a plenty!
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    Default Re: Pirates Are Gearing Up For The Series Against Cardinals

    Major stress 10 days ahead:

    3 vs. The Cardinals
    4 vs. the Braves
    3 vs. the Sillies

    What record for these 10 games sends us the signal that all might be OK and we will not simply be jolted awake from a very pleasant dream?

    What record in these 10 games sets our fingers to twitching as we think about reaching for the panic button?

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    Default Re: Pirates Are Gearing Up For The Series Against Cardinals

    I don't think we hit the panic button for any reason.

    This has been a good half + year. Yes we need to add a bat or two and perhaps a pitch or two, but this is a solid team, no matter what happens. As much as I like our 3 outfielders, Presley, McCutchen and Tabata. A Pence would make for a better one.............fat chance though.

    Those teams (mentioned) should beat us, the same as we should beat the Astros and to some extent, the Cubs. We have been delighted to watch the Pirates win this much.

    Maholm has become Maholm again, same with Correia. The rest are arriving at their most innings pitched point. They may survive this year, but a 25% increase in innings makes for a struggling pitcher, the next year. Add Ollendorf and these guys a carrying a lot on their shoulders.

    I would love a bat, but at what cost? I would love a rising star pitcher, but at what cost.

    The panic button should be reserved for next year, or the next!

    It is a wonderful thing, to be talking about this stuff............Ain't it???
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    Quote Originally Posted by carney2 View Post
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    Major stress 10 days ahead:

    3 vs. The Cardinals
    4 vs. the Braves
    3 vs. the Sillies

    What record for these 10 games sends us the signal that all might be OK and we will not simply be jolted awake from a very pleasant dream?

    What record in these 10 games sets our fingers to twitching as we think about reaching for the panic button?

    I'd take 5-5 over the 10 games.

    Kind of a treading water type thing but keeps us near the top of the division.

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    Default Re: Pirates Are Gearing Up For The Series Against Cardinals

    Quote Originally Posted by vandelay industries View Post
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    I'd take 5-5 over the 10 games.

    Kind of a treading water type thing but keeps us near the top of the division.
    Unless the Cards and/or Brewers start to get hot. They both have the talent to get on a roll. If that happens, then the bucs will eventually fade off in the division. Just have to hope those guys continue to underachieve and keep the Pirates in it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BlackNGoldRules View Post
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    Unless the Cards and/or Brewers start to get hot. They both have the talent to get on a roll. If that happens, then the bucs will eventually fade off in the division. Just have to hope those guys continue to underachieve and keep the Pirates in it.
    Stl seems to be getting hot against us yesterday and so far tonight.

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    Default Re: Pirates Are Gearing Up For The Series Against Cardinals

    Quote Originally Posted by BlackNGoldRules View Post
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    Unless the Cards and/or Brewers start to get hot. They both have the talent to get on a roll. If that happens, then the bucs will eventually fade off in the division. Just have to hope those guys continue to underachieve and keep the Pirates in it.
    I just posted in the game day thread the Cards are clearly superior to the Pirates talent wise. I'm not at all meaning to be a downer,as I've enjoyed this season more than you can imagine,and will do so win or lose the rest of the way,but it is what it is.
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    Default Re: Pirates Are Gearing Up For The Series Against Cardinals

    Quote Originally Posted by buccoray61 View Post
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    I just posted in the game day thread the Cards are clearly superior to the Pirates talent wise. I'm not at all meaning to be a downer,as I've enjoyed this season more than you can imagine,and will do so win or lose the rest of the way,but it is what it is.
    Yeah, I think that's been common knowledge throughout this season for anyone that is a realist. Up until now, you've had one team vastly overachieving and two....maybe three teams underachieving. The Pirates just don't have the talent of the Cards, Brewers or even the Reds. But, what they've done so far this season is at least some hope for what can be done in the future. Eventually though, in a long season, talent ends up winning out. I looked back to the 2003 KC Royals season. They hung in there for most of that season but eventually the Sox and Twins were just too much. We just have to hope this won't be a one season wonder. The Pirates need to build off this season and not go back to being what the Royals have been since their "magical" 2003 season.

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    Default Re: Pirates Are Gearing Up For The Series Against Cardinals

    **** all the dumb ****, get Pedro back in the line-up - STAT!

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