Biertempfel: Pirates will see plenty of Cardinals in final quarter of season
Pirates pitcher Jeff Locke usually doesn't watch many baseball games on TV after the regular season ends. But on those nights when he stretches out on the couch at his offseason home in New Hampshire and clicks the remote, Locke already knows which team will appear on the screen.
The Cardinals have played in the postseason in nine of the past 13 years. They've made three trips to the World Series in that span, winning championships in 2006 and 2011.
“I'm sitting at home, and the Cardinals are always on,” Locke said. “I'm tired of watching them play in October.”
This year, Locke can do something about it.
After Sunday's game against the Marlins, the Pirates will have 59 games left to play. Fourteen of those — nearly a quarter of the remaining schedule — will be against the Cardinals.
Things will ramp up in a hurry Monday, when the Cards come to PNC Park. Four days. Five games, including a rainout makeup doubleheader. The top two teams in the NL Central, already jockeying for playoff position.
“We all know how big that series will be,” reliever Tony Watson said. “It will be fun. It should be a good atmosphere. Any time you play five games in four days, you've got to grind through it.”
The Cardinals are looking ahead to the showdown, too. At the All-Star Game, the Pirates' and Cardinals' lockers were bunched together in one corner of the National League clubhouse. At one point, Cards ace Adam Wainwright turned and smiled at Locke.
“Big series coming up,” Wainwright said.
“I agree,” Locke replied.
“It can really swing one way or the other, for other team,” Wainwright said.
“You're right about that,” Locke said.
The two pitchers looked at each other for a moment, and the conversation ended. But each guy's unspoken message was the same: Bring it.
“It's going to be awesome, man,” Pirates closer Jason Grilli said a few days ago in Washington. “It's the battle we want. They're the big, bad Cardinals, the superpower of our division, and the pressure is on them. It's not on us.”
Grilli was already plenty amped up merely thinking about the upcoming series, but he won't get the chance to pitch in it. A few hours after talking to me, Grilli injured his right forearm and went on the 15-day disabled list.
Since he was hired as manager before the 2011 season, Clint Hurdle has preached hard to his players about staying in the moment. Don't get caught looking ahead and don't worry about the games that already have passed by. The message is the same for this monster series against the Cardinals.
And yet ...
“We always say we don't look too far ahead and we don't talk about yesterday, and I get that,” Locke said. “But it's tough to go home, turn on the TV and not see something baseball-related. It's hard to not see the standings on the scoreboard when you're out on the field stretching. We know where we are and where the Cardinals are.
“So, yeah, I'm excited to throw in this series. You always want to pitch against the best teams out there. Why would you not want to?”
Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates notebook: Bucs set single-season attendance record
- Pirates find a bridge at end of baseball world in Holdzkom
- Monday’s scouting report: Pirates at Braves
- Pirates, Worley edge Brewers, 1-0, move to cusp of playoffs
- Pirates’ 5-game winning streak ends with 1-0 loss to Brewers
- Rossi: The series that will define these Pirates
- Sunday’s scouting report: Brewers at Pirates
- Pirates notebook: Worley raring to go after skipping last start
- Martin’s homer rescues Pirates in 4-2 victory over Brewers
- Pirates notebook: Castillo’s debut underscores challenges in Cuban market
- New approach on offense has Pirates in playoff contention this season