Apr 28, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Garrett Jones (46) hits a solo home run off of St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Fernando Salas (not pictured) during the seventh inning at Busch Stadium. Pittsburgh defeated St. Louis 9-0. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Pirates host Cardinals in huge series at PNC Park


The Pittsburgh Pirates will host the St. Louis Cardinals this week for a very crucial five-game series, starting Monday night. The Cardinals currently hold a 1 1/2-game lead over the Pirates in the very tough National League Central division, which currently features three teams in playoff position – St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.

The Redbirds have won a recent World Series (2011) and have a lot of players with postseason experience. Meanwhile, the Pirates are trying to get where the Cardinals have recently been.

This series is without question the most influential series ever played at PNC Park. This is also the most important series for Pittsburgh baseball since the Atlanta Braves knocked out the Pirates in the 1992 National League Championship Series. People around this area will never forget that heart-wrenching Game 7.

But now, two of the top teams in all of Major League Baseball will face off in Pittsburgh in front of a packed house. The Cardinals have exceptional pitching, as do the Bucs. Both teams rank in the top five in MLB team earned-run average.

The city has a buzz around Pirates baseball that hasn’t been seen since at least 1997 when the “Freak Show” team challenged Houston for the NL Central. The last two teams were good for more than half the season; however, the 2013 club seems to be more ready for the stretch run towards the playoffs.

The MLB front office is also rooting for playoff games played in PNC Park, which is arguably the best ballpark in America. It would be truly fantastic to see the Pirates play October games with the city in the beautiful background view.

The Steelers have started training camp this year but most of Pittsburgh is focused on the play of the young, exciting Pirates. This hasn’t happened in these parts for quite some time.

Before the season started, Bucs manager Clint Hurdle said the Pirates could win 95 games. That would be an amazing accomplishment for an organization that hasn’t seen the “promised land” in 21 years. This week’s series with St. Louis could be a good indication of where the Pirates stand.

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