CINCINNATI, OH - AUGUST 04: James McDonald #53 of the Pittsburgh Pirates throws a pitch during the game against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on August 4, 2012 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
The Pirates have the opportunity to separate themselves from the wild card contenders and catch up to the Reds with a three-game series against the Padres.
After a loss on Thursday that concluded a series split against the Arizona Diamondbacks, the significant command over a playoff spot continued to dwindle some for the Pirates. With the Cardinals hot on their tail, the Pirates have the opportunity to make some distance between them and the rest of the wild card competitors while also trying to hunt down the NL Central-leading Cincinnati Reds when they play a three-game series against the San Diego Padres for the first time this season.
Pitching in game one for the Pirates on Friday will be James McDonald who has struggled recently after a first half of the season that nearly earned him a spot in the MLB All-Star Game. In his last four starts, McDonald has not made an appearance in the seventh inning and has allowed a combined 19 runs in 22 innings.
But McDonald will be facing a pitcher who has had some struggles of his own in Edinson Volquez. The Padres pitcher only got five Mets batters out on Saturday before being pulled after allowing four runs.
Friday's game at PNC Park is scheduled to start at 7:05 p.m. and will be televised on Root Sports-Pittsburgh and Fox Sports San Diego.