The Pirates are coming off of a rough weekend in Denver, which saw them get swept in embarrassing fashion against the Rockies. Fortunately for the Pirates, the Cardinals dropped two of three to the Cubs over the weekend, so the Pirates maintained a three game lead going into their series with St. Louis that starts Tuesday. The Pirates have struggled on the road this year, to the tune of a 29-27 road record, only two games over .500, compared to their record of 41-20 at PNC Park, a win percentage of .672 at home.
This failure to win on the road adds even more weight to an already weighty divisional race with the Cardinals and Reds. With the addition of the second wild card last year, winning the division became even more important, because you avoided the one game play in. For the Pirates, playing with home field advantage for the NLDS and NLCS is they make it that far would be huge. They play so well while at PNC Park, that the advantage of winning the N.L. Central becomes that much more significant.
Obviously at this point every game is becoming progressively more important, but the Pirates road series at the Cardinals this week is going to be the most important one they’ve had since, well, the five game set with the Cardinals at PNC Park at the end of July. The Pirates ability to play well on the road will be tested again, and if they take two of the three games, they will be in a great position going forward, with an extremely soft remaining schedule over the rest of the month (although a number of those soft games are on the road).
The Pirates road struggles are a problem, one of the few problems of this stellar team, which is just another reason why winning the division is of paramount importance. The next step towards that goal is winning the upcoming series in St. Louis.