Originally posted on Raise the Jolly Roger!  |  Last updated 10/3/13
Pirates vs Cardinals – Series Tied 0-0 5:00 PM–Busch Stadium, St Louis MLB.com Gameday TV: TBS Even after a full off day, I think Pittsburgh is still riding an emotional high from Tuesday night. It doesn’t quite feel like the next round is ready to begin already – certainly not at the weird (and annoying) start time of 5 PM. It’s on the road, of course, and I almost get the feel that the Bucs are in to the bonus round now. Had they lost on Tuesday, it would have been pretty devastating. Instead, they got the victory, are in to the “real” playoffs, and gave fans the unforgettable experience of a lifetime. Certainly everyone wants more, but everything just seems a lot better now. There’s leeway if they lose – it’s definitely odd to go from an elimination game to a non-elimination game. Hopefully that will take some pressure off the Bucs – not that they appeared to be feeling any on Tuesday or even on the road last weekend. They’re legitimate underdogs now, which isn’t a bad place to be mentally, especially when you know you have the capability to win. You know all there is to know about the Cardinals by now. They outlasted the Bucs for the division, mostly thanks to that punishing sweep at Busch in the final meeting between the two teams. Up until that point, the Pirates had played great ball against the Cards all season, but St Louis turned it up a notch that weekend and did not look back. As a result, I’m not sure how to feel about the matchup in terms of confidence. Before that series, I would have felt great about the Pirates going up against the Cards – they pounded them at PNC in two big series when the crowd seemed to jumpstart everything, kind of like Tuesday (to a lesser extent, of course). They also played pretty well at Busch until that final series. But in the end, the Cards finished with the momentum and the best record in the league. They have no real weaknesses on paper. That said, the Pirates have plenty of their own momentum right now. Maybe the fact that the Cards haven’t played since Sunday will help the Bucs, even though it gives them the advantage of setting up their rotation. Cardinal fans certainly don’t seem too amped up yet – as of late Wednesday night, neither of the first two games was sold out yet and tickets were available for as cheap as $20. This is old hat for them, of course, and the game times are inconvenient, but that’s a little striking. In the end, even though this is a best of five instead of one game, anything can happen. These two teems met 19 times in the regular season and the Pirates went 10-9 – as even as it gets. Both teams will throw some great starting pitching, great bullpens, and while the Cards have the edge on offense, the Pirates have hit Cardinal pitching just fine this season. Tuesday’s game was as intense as it will get, but today kicks off the “real” playoffs that baseball has known for years. That intensity is going to ramp back up very quickly, and instead of a pure celebration of PNC Park and Pittsburgh and the fans and everything else (all deserved), it’s all about the Bucs and Cards, first to three. Buckle up. NEWS AND NOTES Many clamored for it during the week, and the Pirates obliged – there will be a Big Screen viewing party for Bucs fans on Federal Street. Details are here. Should be pretty cool, especially for folks working downtown that can just walk over after work instead of listening in traffic. The Bucs’ rotation for the series: Burnett, Cole, Liriano, Morton, Burnett. Not too bad, huh? The Cards will go with Lance Lynn in Game 2 and Joe Kelly in Game 3. Shelby Miller or Michael Wacha would probably go in Game 4. Tomorrow’s game is on MLB Network, not TBS. It’s also at 1 PM. This is stupid, but you better make plans if you don’t have MLBN and want to watch it. ROSTERS The roster wasn’t up as of this post (I will update  at some point) but the Pirates will need to sacrifice two spots from the WC roster to add Burnett and Morton. I would think that Travis Snider will lose one of those spots, and either John Buck or Tony Sanchez will lose the other. UPDATE: I was correct…they left Snider and Sanchez off. I would have much rather seen Sanchez over Buck, but hopefully it won’t matter…Russell Martin will catch every game. Today’s starters… A.J. Burnett (10-11, 3.30) vs. Adam Wainwright (19-9, 2.94) It just feels right to have AJ, the anchor of the pitching staff the last two years, starting this off on the road. He certainly has earned the right to take the ball, as his final two starts of the regular season (both against the Reds in pressure situations) were excellent. The bad news is that he’s been a lot better against the Cards at home as opposed to on the road, and he’s slated to pitch on the road twice in this series if it goes five. If he can get his fastball location and his curveball working early, he can overcome that, as he did last Friday. AJ has postseason experience, of course, and shouldn’t be intimidated (not that I’d ever expect him to be intimidated). Wainwright has had a few problems against the Bucs, and had a short hiccup late in the summer, but finished strong and is unquestionably still one of the best in the league. He dominated the Pirates in that Cards sweep but wasn’t great against them before that. The Pirates have some pretty strong individual numbers against him, but I’d expect the “good” Wainwright to show up today. You can also bank on him going deep into the game, even if he isn’t cruising, which is big in the first game of a series. The Bucs need to channel some of their offensive momentum from Tuesday to get out to a good start. Bucs vs Wainwright Cards vs Burnett LET’S GO BUCS!!!!!!
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