Originally written October 03, 2013 on Raise the Jolly Roger!:
Well, it turns out this postseason thing isn’t always as fun as it was for Bucs fans on Tuesday night. Today the Pirates had the tables turned on them, and the Cardinals were the ones enjoying an easy victory to the delight of the home fans. The difference, of course, is that it wasn’t a one game playoff and the Pirates will have the opportunity to bounce back in a matter of hours. Still, this was a pretty big wake up call to bring everyone down from the high of Tuesday, and now the Pirates are staring at a tough task to come back in this series. A.J. Burnett was just brutal, as he has often been at Busch Stadium since joining the Pirates. Even though he was able to post zeroes in the first and second innings, it was pretty clear that he wasn’t sharp – he seemed to be missing an awful lot, often by quite a distance. When he walked Adam Wainwright to start the third, it was hard to think that he’d manage to get out of another inning unscathed. Alas, a single and a booming homer followed, and that might as well have been the game. It was, but the pain didn’t stop there. Burnett continued to miss and miss and miss, and proceeded to load the bases and walk in a run before Clint Hurdle finally came out to get him. Hurdle’s hook was far too late – Jeanmar Gomez wasn’t even warming up until it was well past the point AJ was hopeless, and as he got loose, Burnett continued to put men on base. Sure, you want to trust your veteran leader, but it was pretty obvious right away that he didn’t have much. In a postseason game, you have to be willing to pull the plug sooner – especially on a guy that has been known to blow up in a hurry when things go badly. It wouldn’t have mattered much, of course, because Adam Wainwright came out dealing for St Louis. Even with his mediocre numbers against the Pirates, you knew he was going to be sharp, and he certainly was, mowing down the first eleven men he faced before Andrew McCutchen singled with two outs in the fourth. Once things were out of hand, the offense remained silent with the exception of a towering Pedro Alvarez homer. It was a disastrous game for the Bucs in every facet – they also played poor defense, which fed the initial rally and added on a few runs for the Cards towards the end. Only the bullpen was a minor bright spot, and obviously it was meaningless. I don’t think this was the Pirates “just being happy to be there” or the Cardinals “showing them how to do October.” Burnett had a bad day against a great hitting team and things unraveled, as they have a few times in the past. The Pirates have bounced back from all kinds of losses – close, heartbreaking, and ugly – all season and will need to do so here…there’s no reason to think they won’t. As the road team in a series like this, a split of the first two games is big, and if the Pirates can bring it back to PNC tied 1-1 (and a chance to win the series without going back to Busch), things will be just fine. The loss certainly adds a ton of pressure to Gerrit Cole and the Bucs tomorrow, but outside of Francisco Liriano, there’s nobody else I’d rather hand the ball to in this situation. And Liriano will take it on Sunday at PNC. Cardinals 9, Pirates 1 / Box / Cardinals lead series 1-0 / Next: Friday, at Cardinals, 1:00 Source: FanGraphs

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