When I was in high school, I ran cross country my junior and senior years. Once every other week or so, we'd do a vaunted "hill workout" where our coach would, without warning, lead what we thought was a distance run to Seventh Street in Sharpsville, where we'd just run in circles up and down the big hill there until she was satisfied with the workout. "Pass them on the uphill, bury them on the downhill," she'd tell us over and over again, while we complained and gasped for air and begged for the workout to end.
The Cardinal series was the uphill. The Pirates entered a five-game set a half-game behind the division leaders and beat them four times. They're in first place now. The Rockies and Marlins are the downhill; the Pirates have a chance now to stretch this 1 1/2 game lead they've built into something bigger by beating inferior teams. This is how you win a division.
Tonight, Gerrit Cole looks to stop the bleeding from last night's pounding. I think he's been really excellent in his last two starts, and he's obviously figuring out how to work his slider into the mix and really pitch to big league hitters. Jhoulys Chacin starts for the Rockies. Chacin has a ridiculously low home run rate (just four homers allowed in 127 innings) despite not being a particularly ground-ball-inclined pitcher (48.6%) and pitching in Coors Field. He doesn't strike out many hitters at all these days. The Pirates pounded Jake Westbrook pretty well earlier in the week, and I always like to see them face low-strikeout guys since they strike out so freaking much.
The first pitch tonight is at 7:05. Bury them on the downhill.
Seriously, if the whole Ph.D thing doesn't work out, you've got a hell of a backup plan in this whole writing thing, and I wouldn't argue if wanted to flip-flop the two.
I just started reading your blog over the past couple of weeks, and come to find out you're from Sharpsville is all the better. My mom grew up in Sharpsville and my grandmother lived on Mayfield road, not far from the high school and you probably ran past it doing those hills. We moved away from the area about 25 years ago (we lived in Hartford, OH), but I'm still a huge fan of Pittsburgh sports. Keep up the good work, and Let's Go Bucs!