Kelly has been a road warrior, with a 2.07 ERA away from Busch Stadium this year. In three starts at PNC Park, he's 2-0 with a 0.64 ERA. It is his first post-season start, so it's to be seen if that has any effect, especially on the road. Some guys feed off the energy of a boisterous, hostile crowd; some react by becoming overly amped.
He's developed into a stopper - seven of his 10 wins have come after a St. Louis loss, so we don't see nerves as much of a problem. It should help Pittsburgh that Kelly's mostly a fastball guy, using a slider against righties and a change against lefties with a show-me curve. The caveat is that pitchers tend to go offspeed more often than the norm against the dead red Buccos, so his mix may change a bit. Kelly has gone after the Bucs mainly with a fastball/slider combo in the past. Another Pirate plus is that his peripherals (walks, K, strand rate) suggest he's due to regress, although time is running out for that statistical correction.
Some see this as a mismatch on the mound, and it's possible it may be. Frankie has been all that, but both guys have been sharp thorns in the paws of their opponents, and if that holds true, it could develop into an edge-of-the-seat game. What better way to open what has now devolved into a best-of-three series? The game starts at 4:37 and will be aired by TBS and 93.7 The Fan.
And don't worry about the weather. It's predicted to be a summer day for this contest, and tomorrow's rain is supposed to clear out before game time. So it should be Play Ball! for the NLDC at PNC Park.
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 SS and Francisco Liriano P.
Clint and Jordy continue to play musical chairs at short.
Card lineup: Matt Carpenter 2b, Carlos Beltran RF, Matt Holliday LF, Yadier Molina C, David Freese 3b, Matt Adams 1b, Jon Jay CF, Pete Kozma SS and Joe Kelly P.
A little rearranging of the deck chairs by Mike Matheny, but the same cast of characters.
- Justin Morneau takes a five-game postseason hitting streak into today's game, dating back to his last playoff series in 2006 with the Twins.
- Jayson Stark of ESPN writes that the Pirates were smart as well as lucky in signing Francisco Liriano.
- Kevin McClatchy will throw out the first ball today, a pretty classy move by Bob Nutting & Co. While he didn't have the ways nor means to put together much of a club while the owner, McClatchy's efforts resulted in the team staying put and PNC Park being built. The National Anthem will be performed by Moon Township country singer Sarah Marince. You might remember her from singing Eat'n Park's "Place for Smiles" jingle.
- Pittsburgh fans love everything Black and Gold. There was a huge ovation for Cutch ("MVP! MVP!) and several Pirates (Russ Martin, Justin Morneau, Travis Snider, Bryan Morris, Garrett Jones, Tony Sanchez, Gerrit Cole, Tony Watson, Mike McKenry among others) that were taking in the hockey game at Consol last night. And when Marc Andre Fleury was named a star, he skated around the ice waving a Jolly Roger.
- As predicted by several sources, the Pirates announced that RHP Duke Welker is the PTBNL for Justin Morneau, joining Alex Presley.
- Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe suggests that Pittsburgh may be one of clubs that Bronson Arroyo has interest in for 2014 (and beyond; it's thought he's looking for a three-year deal).