I don't really like the Cardinals at all. This is mostly because they've been the best team in the NL Central for the past few years, Tony La Russa is obnoxious as hell, and I've got to hate someone other than the abstract concept of the Red Sox and Yankees. That semi-irrational hate means that this three game series will be one of the most important the Pirates play all year as far as I'm concerned. That's because the Cards have slipped into third place right now and the Brewers and Cubs just went about arming themselves for a stretch run, while the Cardinals are just hoping that Chris Carpenter comes back and all of their unlikely performers (Ludwick, Wellemeyer, tonight's starter Lohse) don't collapse back down the slippery road of "career norms." Losing a series to the Pirates this weekend would be devastating to them. I like the sound of that. Zach Duke kicks off the team's quest to gain unnecessary vengeance for a blogger they've never met against Lohse tonight at 7:05.