Monday, October 14, 2013
Summer To Remember Epilogue: Wild Card & NLDS In Buctober
Playoff fever swept the City, and the three playoff games at PNC Park were every bit the equal of the Steeler Nation on an especially lubricated day. The Bucs starting pitching held up pretty well, but a season-long inconsistency in scoring reared its ugly head in the NLDC.
October 1 - A record PNC Park crowd of 40,487 saw the Pirates win the NL Wild Card game against the Cincinnati Reds by a 6-2 score. Francisco Liriano gave up one run on four hits over seven innings for the win. He was supported by Russell Martin, who had a pair of homers, and Marlon Byrd, who also went long. Martin was the first catcher to homer for three different teams in the postseason, going yard with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2008 and the New York Yankees in 2012. Byrd’s long ball was during his first post-season at-bat after playing 1,250 MLB games to finally get into the playoffs. It was the first playoff game ever held at PNC and the first Pirate playoff win in Pittsburgh since defeating the Atlanta Braves 7-1 on October 11th, 1992 in the NLCS at TRS. The victory cost the Reds more than a playoff run; it also cost them a manager when Dusty Baker was fired three days later after suffering his seventh straight playoff loss as Cincinnati skipper.
October 3 - AJ Burnett was chased in a seven run third inning that saw 11 Cardinals bat as St. Louis took the opener of the NLDS at Busch Stadium by a 9-1 score. Adam Wainwright went seven innings and struck out nine for the Redbirds. The Pirates only mustered four hits, two by Andrew McCutchen, with Pedro Alvarez’s homer providing the lone Bucco tally.
October 4 - After being trounced in the opener of the NLDS by the Cards, rookie Gerrit Cole fired two-hit ball for six innings in a 7-1 win over St. Louis at Busch Stadium to square the series. Pedro Alvarez and Starling Marte cracked home runs while Russell Martin added a pair of RBIs. Alvarez went 2-for-4 with the homer and a double, scoring twice and driving in a pair of runs. El Toro became the first Pirate since Willie Stargell in 1974 to go yard in back-to-back playoff games.
October 6 - PNC Park had another record breaking crowd of 40,489 to watch the Pirates take a two-one lead in the best-of-five NLDC against the Cards by a 5-3 score. St. Louis rallied from behind twice against the Pirates, but the last comeback belonged to Pittsburgh. The Bucs went up 2-0 on a two-out, two-run Marlon Byrd single in the first, and the Redbirds tied it in the fifth on Carlos Beltran’s two-out, two-run single. The Pirates went ahead 3-2 an inning later on Russell Martin’s sac fly. Beltran tied it again in the eighth with a homer to right center off Mark Melancon. Pittsburgh put up two in their half off Carlos Martinez, with RBI singles from Pedro Alvarez and Martin. Jason Grilli then closed out the see-saw game, with Melancon getting a blown hold and the win. Francisco Liriano and Joe Kelly started the game, but neither made it to the seventh inning.
October 7 - The Pirates were on the brink of eliminating the St. Louis Cardinals from the NLDC at PNC Park, but the Redbirds rode Michael Wacha’s arm to a 2-1 win. The Cards drew first blood when Matt Holliday hit a two run homer in the sixth off Charlie Morton. Pittsburgh halved the gap in the eighth when they got their first and only hit, a 438’ bomb by Pedro Alvarez, to make it 2-1. But both bullpens were in shutdown mode, and that score stood as the final. 40,893 fans - the third consecutive playoff game to set a park attendance record - left the North Shore disappointed. The Cardinals set a playoff record as all three of their pitchers (Wacha, Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal, who got the save) were 23 or younger.
October 9 - The Pirate playoff run ended 6-1 at Busch Stadium as two-run homers by David Freese and Matt Adams gave Adam Wainwright all the support he needed to take the fifth and deciding game of the NLDS. Gerrit Cole pitched well, but after he was pulled for a pinch hitter in the sixth, the Cards scored four times off the Bucco bullpen. Pedro Alvarez singled home the lone score, giving him a MLB record for chasing home a run in each of his first six post-season games.