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MLB National League Wild Card Preview- Cincinnati Reds vs. Pittsburgh Pirates
Cincinnati Reds (90-72) @ Pittsburgh Pirates (94-68) 10/1 8:07PM EST
After 21 years, the Pittsburgh Pirates will be making it’s first playoff appearance in a one game playoff against it’s National League rival Cincinnati Reds. A team they battled all season long, along with the division winner St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals will await the winner of Tuesday nights winner. The Pirates earned the right to host the Reds by sweeping Cincinnati in their own ballpark during the weekend series. These two teams met 18 times during the year, and no matter what their record was against each other, it means nothing. These are the playoffs now, it’s only one game, for the right to advance, so both teams will definitely feel the pressure Tuesday night.
Taking the mound on Tuesday night for the Pirates will be former 2006 All-Star Francisco Lariano who went 16-8, 3.02 ERA during the regular season. Leading the charge for the Pirate offense will be MVP candidate Andrew McCutchen along with catcher Russell Martin and former AL MVP Justin Morneau, who was a late season pick up from the Minnesota Twins.
The Cincinnati Reds, go into Pittsburgh with having making the playoffs three times since 2010, so experience is on their side. Facing the Pirates will be Johnny Cueto, who has been solid since his return on September 16. The Reds are confident giving Cueto the ball as he is 13-4 with a 2.37 ERA in 21 career starts against the Pirates. At PNC Park, he is even better with an 8-2 record with a 1.90 ERA. The Reds have some heavy hitters in the line-up of their own with Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto.
Experience and the right pitcher on the hill Tuesday points to the Reds winning, but I see the Pirates staying hot, and continuing their journey to take on the St. Louis Cardinals Thursday night.