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Pirates host Reds in NL Wild Card playoff

Oct 1, 2013, 1:13 PM EDT

Photo by USA Today Photo by USA Today

CINCINNATI REDS (90-72) vs. PITTSBURGH PIRATES (94-68)

Where: PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pa.
Gametime: 8:07 p.m.
TV: TBS
Radio: ESPN Radio
Weather: Partly cloudy, 70 degrees, wind 6 mph
Starting pitchers: CIN – Johnny Cueto (5-2, 2.82) / PIT – Francisco Liriano (16-8, 3.02)

It’s the first of October and time for playoff baseball, how fitting is it that we kick things off with the first Pirates postseason game in 21 years? Pittsburgh will host this NL Wild Card playoff with perhaps a cruel twist of fate: one game and it could all be over.

The expansion of the playoffs has made pennant races more exciting and seems to be favored by most, but seeing the Pirates go down one-and-done would be absolutely devastating. Those stakes, among others, make this matchup a must-see.

The end of the regular season saw these two teams take very different paths into October. The Reds lost five straight games, including a sweep at the hand of Pittsburgh to close their schedule. They have lost four of their last five games to the Pirates overall and went 8-11 against them this season. The Pirates, meanwhile, are riding that three-game winning streak, and five wins in their last six games overall.

The Pirates also have a bit of a safer bet on the mound. Lefty Francisco Liriano has been brilliant this season, while Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto will be making just his third start since returning from a lat strain on Sept. 16. Cincinnati likely would have gone with Mat Latos if it weren’t for an injury of his own, so now they send out a pitcher who has only thrown 60 2/3 innings in 2013.

Cueto does, however, have a fantastic track record against these very same Pirates. He’s battled them over the years as part of the division rivalry, and sports a 13-4 record with a 2.37 ERA. He’s thoroughly dominated them through 21 career starts and hopes to continue that run tonight.

As far as their lineups go, the advantage goes to Cincinnati. The Reds placed third in the NL this season with 698 runs, and are also a much more patient lineup than Pittsburgh’s. The Reds ranked second in MLB this season with 585 walks. Joey Votto and Shin-Soo Choo actually topped the entire league in walks this year with 135 and 112, respectively.

The Reds also have a bit of an X-factor in Billy Hamilton. The speedy rookie led the majors with 13 stolen bases in the month of September after getting called up from the minors where he was a legend on the base paths.

One team is hot, the other cold, and both know each other very well as division foes. The winner gets a shot at the St. Louis Cardinals – another NL Central team – in a five game series starting Oct. 3. Who will survive and advance?

  1. Eugene in Oregon - Oct 1, 2013 at 2:18 PM

    GYFPG?!?

    • natsfan1a - Oct 1, 2013 at 2:51 PM

      Yup.

      • Raise the Jolly Scooter - Oct 1, 2013 at 3:01 PM

        I concur.

    • slidell2 - Oct 1, 2013 at 3:47 PM

      Me too. During the Great Baseball Depression I rooted for the Bucs.

    • Faraz Shaikh - Oct 1, 2013 at 3:48 PM

      yes, go Pirates!!!

    • natsfan1a - Oct 1, 2013 at 4:35 PM

      Nice moniker. lol, er, I mean arrrgh.

      Raise the Jolly Scooter – Oct 1, 2013 at 3:01 PM

      I concur.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Oct 1, 2013 at 9:12 PM

        So … what would be the graphic to go with Jolly Scooter?

      • natsfan1a - Oct 1, 2013 at 11:32 PM

        I’d post a flag pic here, but you wouldn’t be able to see it, so nevermind.

        Sec 3, My Sofa – Oct 1, 2013 at 9:12 PM

        So … what would be the graphic to go with Jolly Scooter?

    • Chazz - Oct 1, 2013 at 8:54 PM

      I endorse this sentiment.

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Oct 1, 2013 at 8:56 PM

      I, too, wish to rise to address this august body in support of the proposal of my esteemed colleague from the great state of Oregon. G,YFP,G.

    • janebeard - Oct 1, 2013 at 9:52 PM

      Exactly. I’m rooting for McCuthcheon and former Nat Marlon Byrd. If it can’t be us, I want it to be Pittsburgh.

  2. natsfan1a - Oct 1, 2013 at 4:36 PM

    On another note, and after watching the tiebreaker – 6 umps, and they still can’t get the call right? Yeesh.

  3. David Proctor - Oct 1, 2013 at 4:51 PM

    I was just looking at the payroll situation for next year. Guesstimating arbitration values and all, I expect the payroll next year to be around $110 mil. That’s without any free agents or contract extensions.

    In looking at that, I was a bit surprised at how team-friendly Gio’s deal is. It’s 5 years / 42 mil and then there’s a club option for 2017 and a vesting option for 2018. So he’s set to make 8.5 mil, 11.1 mil, 12.1 mil, 12 mil (club option), 12 mil (vests if he pitches 180 innings the prior year). I wouldn’t say it’s cheap by any means, but I think if he continues to perform how he has thus far, that’s a deal you would make every single time. He’d certainly get more on the open market. Smart move to lock him up long-term before he ever even threw a pitch for us.

    • Eugene in Oregon - Oct 1, 2013 at 5:00 PM

      I’d actually say it was cheap — in good, contemporary baseball sense — and suggest that (a) it was a smart deal on the part of Mike Rizzo, and (b) the Nats are fortunate that Scott Boras isn’t Gio Gonzalez’s agent.

    • Theophilus T.S. - Oct 1, 2013 at 6:21 PM

      Good thing for him the vesting comes at 180 innings instead of 200, because he’s unlikely to ever reach 200.

      • David Proctor - Oct 1, 2013 at 6:23 PM

        What? Gio threw over 200 innings in both 2010 and 2011 and he threw 199.1 last year (would have gone over 200 easily if he hadn’t been scratched to line him up for the NLDS). He threw 195 this year.

  4. Eugene in Oregon - Oct 1, 2013 at 5:12 PM

    If you’re still trying to decided whom to support — and assuming I’ve copied this correctly — enjoy:

    http://www.sportsonearth.com/article/62260854

  5. Candide - Oct 1, 2013 at 5:41 PM

    As a lifelong Yankees fan until 2005, I can not bring myself to cheer for the Pirates. I’m still ticked off about the 1960 World Series.

    Cheering for the Reds in this one, as I’m much happier about the 1961 World Series.

  6. Theophilus T.S. - Oct 1, 2013 at 6:25 PM

    My room-mate from freshman year was the most obnoxious Reds fan ever imagined. I think he believed Tommy Helms was going to end up in the HOF. The only Reds I would ever root for play in Mexico City. In fact, I hope these Reds lose 27-0 and jump off the bridge into the Ohio River. And that no one throws them a rope.

    • Candide - Oct 1, 2013 at 6:30 PM

      Because your roommate was an obnoxious Reds fan?

      Fan loyalties and hatreds are a strange thing.

      • Theophilus T.S. - Oct 1, 2013 at 6:55 PM

        You have no idea how obnoxious, in how many ways.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Oct 1, 2013 at 8:58 PM

        Makes perfect sense to me.

    • Section 222 - Oct 1, 2013 at 7:02 PM

      Tommy Helms headed to the Hall? Sounds like a certain former poster who was certain that was Espi’s destiny.

  7. Section 222 - Oct 1, 2013 at 7:01 PM

    I guess it really should be GYFBG, right?

    I like the idea that one, but only one of the NL Central teams will make it to the NLCS. My hope is Bucs vs. Dodgers for a trip to the biggest show. The fewer games that Brian McCann gets to play enforcers of the unwritten rules of baseball the better.

    • Faraz Shaikh - Oct 1, 2013 at 7:02 PM

      I bet on game 3 where a bench clearing will happen.

    • natsfan1a - Oct 1, 2013 at 7:33 PM

      Yah, I sooo do not want to see that dude blocking off access to champagne bottles in the locker room.

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Oct 1, 2013 at 8:59 PM

      I also wish to speak on behalf of this sentiment of the representative from Deuces.

  8. Sec 3, My Sofa - Oct 1, 2013 at 9:00 PM

    But I do want to say, somewhat belatedly,

    MARLON BYRD!!!

  9. Sec 3, My Sofa - Oct 1, 2013 at 9:01 PM

    “McCucheon slides in and scores standing up.”

  10. Sec 3, My Sofa - Oct 1, 2013 at 9:15 PM

    I’m shocked Marte isn’t challenging any runners at all. Harper would have thrown on at least three of them so far.

  11. Sec 3, My Sofa - Oct 1, 2013 at 9:17 PM

    I don’t care HOW MUCH black you wear, or how high your heels are. You lose ALL credibility bringing in Budweiser.

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Oct 1, 2013 at 10:11 PM

      Maybe tomorrow we should have 1/2-inning updates?

  12. Section 222 - Oct 1, 2013 at 10:46 PM

    This is very sweet to see. Go Buccos!

    I was listening to the ESPN radio broadcast on the way home. Orel Hersheiser is a very informative color commentator. That guy seems to know a little about pitching.

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Oct 1, 2013 at 10:47 PM

      And this Darling kid seems to be getting the hang of announcing, too. Not bad, if a little low-key for my taste.

  13. Sec 3, My Sofa - Oct 1, 2013 at 10:46 PM

    Russell Martin with a 7th inning add-on. That’s how it’s done, people.

  14. nats128 - Oct 1, 2013 at 10:56 PM

    http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2013/10/01/dan-uggla-to-be-left-off-braves-roster-for-nlds/

    Dan Uggla rumored to be off the Barves NLDS roster. I just wish Rizzo made 2 of the tough decisions last year to leave off his non-performers.

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Oct 1, 2013 at 11:02 PM

      Spilt milk, dude.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Oct 1, 2013 at 11:04 PM

        OK, wait a freakin minute.There was another comment here that I was responding to.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Oct 1, 2013 at 11:06 PM

        Whoa. And now it’s back. The Interwebz giveth and the Interwebs taketh away. And then it giveth back. Go figure.

    • Steady Eddie - Oct 1, 2013 at 11:08 PM

      Oh, c’mon, just give it up. Miserable as Danny was at the plate after his early September injury, that had virtually nothing to do with the NLDS outcome. Our starting pitching was the biggest key to our success in 2013, and no one had a shutdown game other than Det in game 4 — the other 3 just ran out of gas. And bullpen, which alsohad nothing to do with anyone who should have been left off.

      • Steady Eddie - Oct 1, 2013 at 11:09 PM

        Meant 2012, of course.

  15. Steady Eddie - Oct 1, 2013 at 10:58 PM

    Interesting to hear the commentators quote Dusty Baker’s concern about the Reds recent lack of hitting with runners in scoring position.

    Too familiar, especially back in July.

  16. Sec 3, My Sofa - Oct 1, 2013 at 11:01 PM

    Awww, come OH, Pirates fan in right. You HAVE GOT TO frame that ball as a double.
    E-10.

  17. natsfan1a - Oct 1, 2013 at 11:29 PM

    That was awesome, and the first run was Marlon’s!

  18. natsfan1a - Oct 1, 2013 at 11:31 PM

    Nice save, WordPress. Nice save.

    “Duplicate comment detected; it looks as though you’ve already said that!”

  19. Sec 3, My Sofa - Oct 1, 2013 at 11:37 PM

    “Stop me if you’ve heard this one …”

    • natsfan1a - Oct 2, 2013 at 7:07 AM

      So, this woman types into a blog…

  20. Faraz Shaikh - Oct 2, 2013 at 5:44 AM

    Happy for Bucs fans and Mark!

  21. natsfan1a - Oct 2, 2013 at 7:15 AM

    Another reason to root for Pittsburgh. :-)

    7h
    Mark Zuckerman @ZuckermanCSN

    The 16-year-old me who sat in stunned silence along with Andy Van Slyke as Sid Bream slid across the plate really enjoyed tonight.

  22. natsfan1a - Oct 2, 2013 at 7:47 AM

    Evidently not shown on TBS last night (I tuned in late after a birthday dinner), anthem by McCutcheon’s mom:

    http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/mlb-big-league-stew/andrew-mccutchen-mom-petrina-sings-national-anthem-wild-040157590–mlb.html

  23. natsfan1a - Oct 2, 2013 at 7:48 AM

    “McCutchen.”

  24. natsfan1a - Oct 2, 2013 at 8:23 AM

    As in, not this:

  25. natsfan1a - Oct 2, 2013 at 9:15 AM

    Okay, so I just saw this and it’s a moot point now but still…pretty danged funny, right?

    http://www.baseballnation.com/2013/10/1/4789704/cincinnati-reds-pittsburgh-pirates-playoff-wild-card

Archives

NLDS: NATIONALS VS. GIANTS

FRI: Game 1 at Washington, 3:07 p.m. (FS1)
SAT: Game 2 at Washington, 5:37 p.m. (FS1)
MON: Game 3 at San Francisco, TBA (MLBN)
TUE: Game 4 at San Francisco, TBA (FS1)*
THU: Game 5 at Washington, TBA (FS1)*
*if necessary

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

ON THE RADIO

As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
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