PITTSBURGH -- The sages at Baseball Prospectus have determined that heading into Wednesday night's game, the Pirates had a 55.5 percent chance of making the playoffs. Relayed that information, manager Clint Hurdle just stared blankly. "It doesn't matter," Hurdle finally said. "We've just got to go play the games. I guess it's better than 35 [percent]. We've earned our way to get to 55, I guess. I don't think we were at 55 last year at this time."
Correct. By Aug. 8, 2011, the Pirates' mid-July contention had unraveled into a record of 54-59, and the free fall would continue. It isn't known how the prognosticators at Baseball Prospectus go about these things, but a meat-and-potatoes approach would strongly suggest that 90 wins is a good target for postseason qualification, at least for one of the two Wild Card berths. And to reach that lofty number, the Bucs need a relatively conservative 28-25 record to the wire. They began Wednesday's game with 33 wins in their previous 53 games.