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The Pittsburgh Pirates are currently second in the National League’s wild card race, and they will challenge the third placed wild card contender, the Milwaukee Brewers (79-73), this weekend in a head-to-head series starting Friday. It won’t be easy as Milwaukee has been a mainstay atop the NL Central division until recently.
For the first time in a long while, the Pirates made the postseason last fall (94-win season), so their success this year isn’t entirely surprising; although, their late season surge caught many off guard. While they are currently 81-70, until recently, it was assumed that the Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals would represent the central division in the National League.
Pittsburgh has benefited from the breakout performance of All-Star Josh Harrison, and the third baseman has meshed well with the young core already in place. Harrison’s .318 batting average is second in the NL; he’s only behind Morneau (.320). His 36 doubles put him in the same ranks as Davis, Kemp, McCutchen and Peralta. The Pirates are 16/1 to win the World Series.
Earlier in the year, in April, Pittsburgh beat Milwaukee 11-2, resulting in the Brewers’ first road loss. We’ll see if their rematch offers different results with increased pressure for Milwaukee to snatch the wild card berth.