Originally posted on Raise the Jolly Roger!  |  Last updated 9/21/13
Reds (88-66) at Pirates (88-66) 7:05 PM–PNC Park, Pittsburgh MLB.com Gameday TV: ROOT The Bucs will try and pick themselves up from a tough defeat yet again and bounce back with a win to move back ahead of the Reds. Eight games remain on the year, and it’s a toss up as to who will have home field in the wild card game between these two clubs (assuming neither overtakes the Cards and neither is overtaken by the Nats, who are still a huge long shot at five back of both).  It is crucial for the Bucs to recover, and it won’t be easy to beat a good and hot team in the Reds, but they’re going to have to get used to playing them because they are the only thing separating the Pirates from the NLDS. Pregame news… Jason Grilli is your new closer. I don’t know how I feel about this – Mark Melancon hasn’t really been bad in my eyes, despite the two blown saves in a row. There were lots of soft hits and some poor defense to blame, and I don’t think Grilli’s back in his early season form yet. That said, his last outing was much better and if you think about things from his perspective, it had to be killing him to sit in the pen and watch those last two games get away (although he blew one himself a week ago). As the veteran leader, you have to think Hurdle wanted to get him the job back eventually and this may not be a bad time to do it. Hopefully the Pirates are in a position to use him tonight. Tonight’s starters… Homer Bailey (11-10, 3.40) vs. A.J. Burnett (8-11, 3.43) Bailey threw a no hitter against Burnett and the Bucs in on a Saturday night at PNC in late September last year, and since then he has developed in to one the NL’s top starters. He throws hard, has strong secondary stuff, and has become a workhorse who goes deep in to games. He has owned the Pirates in past seasons and has pitched well against them this year (20 K, 1 BB) but the Bucs have won both games against him in 2013 by working him hard and scratching out just enough runs.  A.J. had a pretty good start last time out against the Padres but took another L as the Bucs were shut out. Again, Hurdle needs to know when to take him out of the game – a common theme this year with Burnett has been early dominance but struggles around the 5th/6th/7th innings. He has done decent work against Cinci since joining the Pirates.
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