Originally posted on Raise the Jolly Roger!  |  Last updated 10/4/13
The Bucs are coming home after a split on the road, and despite Thursday’s disaster, they’re back in great shape after a victory Friday that was the polar opposite of Game 1. After an off day Saturday, the Bucs will have the opportunity to win this series without going back to St. Louis – it’s now a best-of-three and they have home field. Francisco Liriano will take the hill on Sunday and the blackout will be in full force again. Gerrit Cole was the star of this one without a doubt. I figured he had a chance to make this postseason his national coming out party after his brilliant September, and he did just that on Friday. Cole showed the excellent composure and command we did not see from the veteran A.J. Burnett in Game 1, and the Cardinals were not able to handle his stuff, which was on point. He allowed just two hits, one walk, and struck out five, rarely facing any trouble.  After he escaped the first inning despite leaving a few heaters up in the zone, Cole responded to the only other hit (Yadier Molina‘s solo shot) and walk with a big strikeout as the crowd tried to fire up the home team. He was absolutely tremendous. And as if that wasn’t enough, he did it with the bat as well – again. Gerrit got the Bucs out to their first Division Series lead with a 2 out RBI single up the middle in the second after the Cards intentionally walked Jordy Mercer to face the pitcher. That scored Pedro Alvarez, who had doubled. Pedro needed no assistance in his next at bat – he muscled a homer to the grass above the CF fence to make the lead 3-0. That’s two bombs in two NLDS – not a bad time for one of those hot spurts. The offense didn’t let up against Lance Lynn, which was great to see. Justin Morneau  teamed up with Marlon Byrd for back to back doubles in the 5th. Russell Martin‘s bouncer through the infield scored another, and the Pirates were able to add one more off the bullpen when David Freese misplayed an infield pop up. Byrd hustled to second on the play, and advanced on productive outs from Alvarez and Martin. Oh, and Starling Marte added a late solo homer for good measure. The Cardinals were a mess defensively all game – some better routes in the outfield could have prevented some of those Pirate doubles, and Freese’s missed pop up was comical. All of a sudden, they were the ones that looked like an inexperienced postseason team. I don’t think it’s going to be as easy as two wins like this at PNC Park to close the deal, but it’s not all that hard to imagine. The Pirates were great there this year against the Cards. The crowds will be nuts. The Cards are starting two rookie pitchers – both have been stellar – but maybe they can be rattled like Cueto. If the series ends up going five, the Pirates will have the option of starting Cole again instead of Burnett. It would be nuts not to do that after seeing what happened these past two games, but we know Burnett is going to want the ball. I don’t think the Pirates are thinking about that right now, though. They’re going to do all they can to clinch an NLCS berth at PNC Park on Monday afternoon. Pirates 7, Cardinals 1 / Box / Series tied 1-1 / Next: Sunday, vs. Cardinals, 4:30 Source: FanGraphs
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