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Big stretch for the Pirates

The next 10 days will go a long way to determine the Pirates' fate this season.

Today, the Bucs start a three-game series against the Cardinals at PNC Park. After that, it's a brutal, seven-game trip on the road against NL East powers Atlanta (four games) and Philadelphia (three games).

The Pirates begin play today percentage points ahead of the Brewers for first place in the NL Central. The Cardinals are only one game back while the Reds are four. The Braves and Phillies, for now, look like two playoff teams, with the loser of their NL East race likely the wild-card winner.

If the Pirates can survive these 10 days, then they head into August a contender.

If they stumble, especially in the first half of this stretch, I can easily see management holding off on any big moves before the July 31 trade deadline.

Hopefully, the Pirates can continue their strong play, find some key hitting and get some big wins. Then it's up to general manager Neal Huntington to show us what he can do.

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