Major League Baseball’s postseason euphoria is already in high gear and the first series hasn’t even started yet. This is due in large part to the expanded Wild Card format and the tiebreaker game.
After a postseason drought that had reached the legal drinking age of 21 years the Pittsburgh Pirates made a triumphant return Tuesday night defeating the Cincinnati Reds, 6-2. Backed by a raucous home crowd dressed in black and chanting Reds starting pitcher Johnny Cueto’s name the Pirates would not be denied.
The crowd’s chanting of ”Cueto” was so loud it shook Cueto into dropping the baseball and having to step off the mound to retrieve it. Upon returning to the mound Cueto’s next pitch was sent deep into the Pittsburgh night for a home run by Pirates catcher Russell Martin. The Pirates never looked back and the Reds couldn’t recover.
That brings us to today’s game one of the National League Division Series between the Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals. St. Louis has home field advantage in the five game series based on winning the NL Central and having the best record in the National League. Pittsburgh won the season series against St. Louis, 10-9.
Game one starters will be Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright(19-9, 2.94 ERA) against the Pirates A.J. Burnett (10-11, 3.30 ERA). First pitch is 5:07pm ET on TBS today.
With these two teams having spent all season battling each other in the NL Central they are quite familiar with each other. Game two probable starters are Lance Lynn for the Cardinals and rookie Gerrit Cole. The first two games of the series will be played in St. Louis. Games three and four(if necessary) will take place in Pittsburgh and a decisive game five(if necessary) will take place in St. Louis.
The Cardinals haven’t announced a starting pitcher yet for game three. Wild Card game starter and winner Francisco Liriano will toe the slab for the Pirates. Liriano had been incredible at home pitching in PNC Park where he has only lost once this season.
Cardinals first baseman Allen Craig will not return from a foot injury he suffered nearly a month ago for the NLDS. The clutch hitting Craig could possibly return for the National League Championship Series should the Cardinals advance. He will be replaced in the lineup by rookie slugger Mike Adams.
St. Louis has the postseason experience but Pittsburgh is on quite a roll after winning the Wild Card game. No team has had to experience the PNC Park postseason crowd except for the Reds and you know what happened to them. My pick here is the Pirates in four games and moving on to the NCLS.
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