AJ Burnett (10-11, 3.30) and Adam Wainwright (19-9, 2.94) will kick it off. AJ is 3-1 with a 3.67 ERA against the Cardinals in six 2013 starts, and 8-6 with a 4.11 ERA in 17 career starts.Wainwright is 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA against the Pirates in three starts this year, and 9-4 with a 4.81 ERA in 22 career games against Pittsburgh, making 18 starts. Both guys are masters of the curve ball and it's their swing-and-miss pitch, so seeing if that's on will tell a lot about what kind of day they'll have in store.
Tonight's game will start at Busch Stadium at the odd time of 5:07, aired on TBS and AM 970 ESPN, where the regular Pirate broadcasters will be hanging out during the playoffs.
Pirate lineup: Starling Marte LF, Neil Walker 2b, Andrew McCutchen CF, Justin Morneau 1b, Marlon Byrd RF, Pedro Alvarez 3b, Russ Martin C, Clint Barmes and AJ Burnett P.
Looks like Barmes is going to get the call at SS during the playoffs, with Clint opting for a veteran defensive presence.
Cards lineup: Matt Carpenter 2b, Carlos Beltran RF, Matt Holliday LF, Matt Adams 1b, Yadier Molina C, Jon Jay CF, David Freese 3b, Daniel Descalso SS and Adam Wainwright P.
Matt Adams, as you may recall, is a fairly local boy from Slippery Rock U. via Phillipsburg in Centre County, and in 296 AB has put up a pretty nice line of .284/17/51. He replaced Allen Craig, the Cardinals’ All-Star first baseman, who will miss the series with a Lisfranc injury to his left foot.
- Home field has been huge in this series. The Cards swept the Bucs in early September at Busch Stadium and were 6-3 under the Arch. The Bucs went 7-3 at PNC Park against the Redbirds.
- The two teams have combined to win 16 World Series, yet will be meeting each other in the postseason for the first time. Both teams are sizzling. The Pirates won six of their last seven this season, while the Cardinals carry a six-game winning streak.
- St. Louis is in the postseason for the third straight October. They won the World Series in 2011, and they went to the NLCS in 2012.
- Cutch, with two walks and two singles, became the first Pirate to reach base on his first four postseason plate appearances.
- How awesome was the PNC Park crowd on Tuesday? Three-of-four Wild Card games over the past two years have been won by road team; Pittsburgh is the only exception.
- Kinda wonder what the NY Yankees, watching this year's playoffs from home, think when they see the battery of AJ Burnett and Russ Martin in the NLDS?
- Clint Hurdle played for St. Louis in 1986. He hit his 32nd and final major league home run as a Cardinal, against the Pirates’ Rick Reuschel at TRS.
- Pittsburgh is 26th among the 30 MLB teams with a $73.6M payroll, Oakland is 27th at $71.1M and Tampa Bay is 28th at $65.6M. Cleveland, which lost to the Rays, was 21st at $88.6M. Don't know that this makes for a good argument regarding parity in the league, though, as three of the four teams in the bottom third of the payroll pool qualified as wild cards.
- Sheesh - poor Ohio. Two wild card games played, and both of the state's playoff entries, Cincinnati and Cleveland, were eliminated.
- Not playoff related, but noteworthy: The Pittsburgh chapter of Rotary International announced that Kent Tekulve was selected to receive of the 2013 Chuck Tanner “Life-Time Achievement Award.” Tekulve and this year’s MLB Manager of the Year, to be named shortly, will be honored at a banquet in November. Past winners have included Jim Leyland, Steve Blass and Sean Casey.