Pirates welcome postseason to PNC Park

John Perrotto, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange


Postseason baseball is coming to PNC Park for the first time since it opened on the shores of the Allegheny River in 2001.
The Pirates host the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday night in the National League wild card game. It marks the Pirates' first playoff game since a heartbreaking Game 7 loss in 1992 National League Championship Series to the Atlanta Braves.
"It's going to be a really exciting time," said second baseman Neil Walker, who grew up as a Pirates fan in Pittsburgh's northern suburbs. "It's something a lot of people haven't experienced with Pirate baseball. I imagine the crowd is going to be Steeler-esque."
Left-hander Francisco Liriano (16-8, 3.02 ERA in the regular season) will start for the Pirates against Johnny Cueto (5-2, 2.82 ERA).
The Pirates clinched home-field advantage by sweeping the Reds in a three-game series at Cincinnati over the weekend to finish in second place with a 94-68, three games behind the St. Louis Cardinals (97-65) and four games ahead of the Reds (90-72) in the National League Central.
The winner of Tuesday night's game will travel to St. Louis to meet in the Cardinals on Thursday night in the opener of a best-of-five National League Division Series.
The Pirates won five of their last six regular-season games while the Reds finished with five straight losses.
The Pirates went 50-31 at home this season, including winning five of nine against the Reds.
"The important thing for me is getting the guys to play in a park where we won 50 games this season and giving our fans a taste of postseason in baseball," manager Clint Hurdle said.
Though his Reds took two of three from the Pirates in Pittsburgh from Sept. 20-22, manager Dusty Baker would have preferred to avoid another game at PNC Park.
"It was a hostile crowd here and I've never seen it like this here before and I've been coming to Pittsburgh for a lot of years," Baker said after the last game of that series. "It's a little bit different here now that they're winning. It's become a tough place to play."
The Pirates won 11 of 19 from the Reds in the regular season, even though Liriano was 0-3 with a 3.70 ERA in four starts.
Cueto was 1-0 with a 0.73 ERA in two starts against the Pirates this season and is 13-4 against them lifetime with a 2.37 ERA in 21 starts. He had three stints on the disabled list this year with a strained left lat muscle.
Reds first baseman Joey Votto hit .317 (19-for-60) against the Pirates in the regular season with two doubles, three home runs and 19 walks but right fielder Jay Bruce was 10-for-73 (.137) with 22 strikeouts.