If you are the Pittsburgh Pirates, or a Pittsburgh Pirates fan, you couldn’t feel better about where the team is at as they head into Game 3 of the NLDS Sunday afternoon.
The Bucs did exactly what an underdog is supposed to do in a series format. They split on the road and have now made this a best-of-three series and have stolen home field advantage.
With Francisco Liriano taking the hill on Sunday, you almost have to now consider the Bucs the favorites to win this NLDS. Even though Cardinals starter Joe Kelly has owned the Pirates in the past, it’s hard not to think Liriano won’t come away with a win in Game 3, especially given the fact that Liriano went 8-1 with a 1.47 ERA at PNC Park during the regular season.
He is also coming off a masterful performance in the Wild Card Game against the Cincinnati Reds in which Liriano tossed seven innings of four-hit baseball.
Yes, Pirates fans should feel very confident Sunday, especially given the fact that Liriano is 3-0 vs. the Cardinals this season. In 24 innings of work against the Red Birds, the southpaw has allowed only two earned runs and 10 hits.
I can’t think of a better pitcher that I would want on the mound Sunday afternoon.
However assuming Liriano is dominant and the Pirates take a 2-1 series lead, which puts the Bucs in the position where they have two chances to close things out.
It’s almost as if the Pirates have the Cardinals right where they want them, especially since they went 50-31 at home this season.
Entering Sunday, two of the Pirates three playoff games so far have been near perfect performances. Entering the biggest two home games of the season; it is a good sign that the Bucs have played so well in recent games.
Throw in the fact that they will have the support of what promises to be a rabid and vocal PNC Park crowd and you have to love the position this Pirates team has put themselves in.
They have the Cardinals right where they want them.
Now it’s up to the Bucs to simply close things out.