One key will be to see if he comes out of the gates focused and with guns blazing. His first inning ERA is 5.68, and opponents are hitting .359 in the opening round, and after yesterday's romp, it would behoove him not to feed into the Redbirds momentum. Another is how he handles a playoff caliber attack. Cole tossed respectably against both the Dodgers and Athletics, but since the All-Star break, the Rangers are the only post-season club he's met (he beat Yu Darvish 1-0).
Lynn has a 4.50 ERA in his postseason career, giving up seven earned runs in 11 innings for a 5.73 ERA in the playoffs last year. He's 2-1/5.60 in five starts against the Bucs this year, and in his two outings at Busch has given up eight runs in 10-1/3 innings. So the Bucs can get to him, and this would be a good time to do just that. Spoiler alert: Lynn got this start because he has an ERA of 1.09 over his last four starts and went 9-3 with a 2.82 ERA at Busch Stadium this season.
The game begins at 1:07 and will be aired by MLB Network and AM 970 ESPN. The Pirates are also hosting a watch party inside PNC Park for the game. Fans can enter through the Clemente Gate in center field and the Mazeroski Gate in right field starting at noon to watch the game on the scoreboard screen. Concession stands and the team store will be open on the main concourse, along with the Budweiser Bowtie Bar (Mrs. Latos will not be present).
Pirate lineup: Starling Marte LF, Neil Walker 2b, Andrew McCutchen CF, Justin Morneau 1b, Marlon Byrd RF, Pedro Alvarez 3b, Russ Martin C, Jordy Mercer SS and Gerrit Cole P.
Jordy gets his first playoff start.
Card 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 Lance Lynn P.
Worked yesterday evening; might as well trot 'em out again.
- Looking for a possible hero? Pedro Alvarez has hit nine HR and chased home 34 runs against the Cardinals, the most by any player during the past two seasons.
- Something has to give: Pittsburgh is 4-0 in their last four games following a loss, 8-3 in their last 11 road games, 5-0 in Gerrit Cole’s last five starts and 0-6 in their last six games in St. Louis.
- In the six previous times they won Game One of the NLDS, the Cardinals went on to capture the series (1996, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006). And St. Louis has won the last four games at Busch Stadium against the Pirates by 9-1, 9-2, 5-0 and 12-8 scores.
- The Bucs announced that a limited number of tickets for NLCS will go on sale 10 a.m. Saturday. They'll use a wristband lottery to determine the buyer's order, with the bands distributed at PNC Park Friday from 10-2 and Saturday from 7-9.
- Several sources report that Dusty Baker has been canned by the Reds after losing the Wild Card and the NL Central this year. He won 509 games as Reds manager and made the playoffs three of last four years, but was eliminated in the first round each time.