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Pirates vs. Mets Preview: Pittsburgh's playoff elimination number down to 1

To say that Wednesday night's matchup with the New York Mets at Citi Field is a big game for the Pittsburgh Pirates is an understatement. The Bucs are fighting for their playoff lives and with one more loss -- or a St. Louis Cardinals win -- they'll be eliminated from postseason contention.

Under that scenario, it appears that missing the playoffs this season will be an unavoidable truth for the Pirates, so there is virtually no pressure on pitcher Jeff Locke, who will take the mound for Pittsburgh. The left-hander will be making his fifth start of the season -- ninth of his career -- and will also be looking for his first win. For his career, the 24-year-old enters the game at 0-5 and with an ERA of 5.88.

The Pirates will be looking to continue to aid in their young hurler's development by giving him meaningful innings that they hope will build his confidence and carry over into Spring Training next year.

Andrew McCutchen will try and maintain his lead for the NL batting title after going 1-3 on Tuesday night, his seventh consecutive game with a hit. His .336 average places him just slightly ahead of Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants, who has a .333 average.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.