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Cincinnati Reds vs. Pittsburgh Pirates: Weekend Series Preview

PITTSBURGH - AUGUST 03:  Paul Janish #7 of the Cincinnati Reds tags out Ronny Cedeno #13 of the Pittsburgh Pirates during the game on August 3, 2010 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
Michael HammonsCorrespondent ISeptember 10, 2010

No doubt the majority of Pittsburghers have moved on from the Pirates for the year, and many Reds fans are getting psyched for the Bengals on Sunday, but there is very important business to take care of this weekend at Great American Ballpark.

The Reds return home licking their wounds from the horrific 1-6 road trip, one in which they showed a great deal of lethargy and fatigue.

The outfield injuries are starting to catch up, I'm not convinced Brandon Phillips is back to being 100 percent, the starting pitching, outside of Travis Wood, has been a major letdown, and some guys, such as Scott Rolen, are looking very tired.

Additionally, the Reds added fuel to the fire when it comes to how they are perceived.

Myself and others on here have spent time trying to convince others that the Reds are something more than just a team that beats up on the weak, and folds against winning teams, but recent events have strengthened their stance, and left some of us wondering about our own feelings.

Time to move on, though, and it's time to take care of business against the worst team in Major League Baseball record wise, the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Anything less than taking two out of three from those guys would be major cause for concern, and though we have fared well against that sort of competition all year, I hope our guys aren't getting tight out there.

Friday's pitching matchup will put Homer Bailey up against Paul Maholm.  Bailey has put together some of his best performances against Pittsburgh, going 5-0 with a 1.57 ERA in his career, so this may be the team that can help get the inconsistent righty going.

Maholm has fared well against Cincinnati in his career, going 4-1 with a 2.59 ERA, but is having a rough season overall, as he currently sits with a 7-14 record and a 5.43 ERA.

On Saturday, the struggling Aaron Harang (6-7, 5.15 ERA) goes against Charlie Morton, who had had a rough year as well, as he sports a 1-11 record with a 9.66 ERA.

Pittsburgh fans I've talked to tell me that Morton has electric stuff, but he has yet to put it all together.

Sunday afternoon in the series finale, the Pirates will send out Brian Burres (3-3, 5.75 ERA) against Johnny Cueto (12-5, 3.45 ERA).

The Pirates have a young nucleus with guys like Pedro Alvarez, Garrett Jones, Andrew McCutchen, Neil Walker, and Jose Tabata leading the charge.

Alvarez is batting .381 in his last six games, and Tabata is batting .343 since the All-Star break.

If Pittsburgh can hang on to all these players, and they continue to grow and develop, perhaps down the road, the city will once again experience some winning baseball.

Hopefully, the Reds don't get a glimpse of that potential this weekend.  

It's football season, and the Bearcats, Buckeyes, and Bengals are going, but those things can wait, as September baseball is getting really important around these parts.

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