Who else is pumped for Pirates playoff baseball? The Black Sea should be incredible tonight!
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For the third consecutive year, the Pittsburgh Pirates are hosting the National League Wild Card Game, and I can guarantee you that PNC Park will be #bucn tonight! This is the 17th time the Pirates have been in the postseason.
I’ve had the privilege of attending the 2013 Wild Card game against the Cincinnati Reds and Johnny Cueto, as well as the 2014 edition against the San Francisco Giants and Madison Bumgarner. I’ve been on both sides of the spectrum.
I cannot explain how loud PNC Park was in 2013 with the “Cueto-cueto-cueto” chants. You had to have been there to believe it. I don’t think tonight will surpass that event, as we fans were 20+ years deprived from winning, playoff baseball.
Last year, I suffered through the Bumgarner show/ complete game and the grand slam that took the life out of PNC Park. The Giants went on to win the World Series last season, which left me wondering if it could have been my Pirates.
Tonight, I hope for more of version 2013 and less of version 2014.
And in comes Cubs star pitcher and CY Young candidate Jake Arrieta (22-6), who has the lowest post-All-Star Break ERA in the history of baseball. He has to be due for a bad game, right?
The “Black Sea” will not be kind to Arrieta, as he gave them more reason to be loud tonight. On Twitter, he replied to a Pirate Parrot Parody account by saying, “Whatever helps keep your hope alive, just know, it doesn’t matter.”
Pirates fans will be cheering on their ace in Gerrit Cole (19-8). I wouldn’t be surprised to see him reaching a 100mph fastball tonight.
The St. Louis Cardinals finished 100-62, Pirates 98-64, and Cubs 97-65. The Kansas City Royals finished with a 95-67 record, the best in the American League. Because of the playoff format, two of the three best records in baseball will be gone before the National League Championship Series.
I think it is a shame, but the system is the system. This was the first time in the history of baseball where the top three records reside in the NL Central. Imagine if the Houston Astros, who defeated the New York Yankees in the AL Wild Card Game, were still in the division!
If Pittsburgh gets by Arrieta and the Cubs tonight, I think the Pirates can go on a legit run to the World Series.
For the game tonight, I think Cole and Arrieta will be stellar, and I think this game is going to come down to a few key hits and the bullpen play. As Larry had predicted in the previous Pirates post, I also think the Pirates will win 3-2 tonight.
The Cubs are built to be successful for a while, but tonight is not their night.
I predict that Pedro Alvarez will come up with a huge at-bat tonight. I hope the Pirates retain Pedro in the offseason, but several fans don’t want him due to his errors in the field. Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte could both change the complexion of this game with one swing of the bat.
As for the bullpen, I give the advantage to the Pirates, as Joakim Soria, Tony Watson, and Mark Melancon have been dominant.
Of note, on the 25-man roster, the Pirates have included Francisco Liriano, incase Cole gets in early trouble. Personally, I would have also included J.A. Happ on this list.
Rookie Jung Ho Kang, who was out for the season due to a knee injury against the Cubs, will partake in the pregame ceremony. If the Pirates had Kang for the final stretch of the season (including the final Cardinals series), they may have won the division.
There are several questions that will be answered tonight.
- Will Cole outduel Arrieta?
- Will the Pirates be able to knock in base runners?
- Will Clint Hurdle and Joe Maddon make any key substitutions?
- How loud will PNC Park be tonight?
- Will Arrieta be able to handle the pressure?
- Who is going to win the Pierogie Race?
- Who will be the hero for the Pirates tonight?
Be sure to wear your black and be loud. Hopefully we are all celebrating on Federal Street around 11:30pm tonight, but please don’t jump off the Clemente Bridge like the fan back in 2013. That is not safe.