Neil Walker back in starting lineup for first time since August 26

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The Pirates’ recent collapse has been pretty depressing to watch, but there is some good news to report this morning.

According to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Neil Walker is back in the Pirates’ starting lineup this afternoon against the Cubs after missing 16 straight starts due to lower back tightness. He struck out as a pinch-hitter yesterday in his first game action since August 26.

The Pirates went 4-12 with Walker out of the lineup and have lost seven in a row to fall to 72-71 on the year. They’ll open today’s action three games behind the Cardinals in the Wild Card race with 19 games to play. Postseason aspirations aside, avoiding a 20th straight losing season is suddenly looking dicey.

Walker, 27, is batting .280/.341/.434 with 14 home runs, 69 RBI and a .775 OPS in 122 games played this season.

ALCS Game 4 postponed

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As expected, a weather system that is supposed to pour rain on New York this evening has caused the league to postpone Game 4 of the ALCS.

The game will now be played tomorrow, with Game 5 moving to Friday, which was supposed to be a travel day. There will be no travel day now, with Games 6 and 7, if necessary, taking place in Houston on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

The postponement helps the Yankees some in the short term in that it gives their bullpen some rest and could allow them to go from a scheduled bullpen game, which is what they were going to use tonight, to giving Masahiro Tanaka the Game 4 start tomorrow. In the longer run, though, it works to the Astros’ advantage in that it allows them to skip their fourth starter (whoever that would be) or toss one of their big three on short rest and go with Zach Greinke and Justin Verlander over the next two games. Moreover, if the Yankees do manage to push this series to six or seven games — which they’ll have to now in order to win it — there will be four straight days worth of games, meaning no rest for that pen over the final four games.

Oh, and since the Nats swept the Cardinals, that means there’s no baseball tonight. Enjoy catching up on whatever it is you have on your DVR.