The Pittsburgh Pirates are set to host their first playoff game since 1992 after clinching the NL's top wild-card position Saturday. The Pirates defeated the team they're directly in contention with, the Cincinnati Reds, 8-3 on the strength of six home runs — the most ever by a team visiting Great American Ballpark.
Maybe they won't want to leave Cincinnati after all.
Only kidding, Pirates fans. This is obviously a momentous day for the Pirates franchise, and an especially big day for a loyal fanbase that has craved this moment for 21 years.
The NL's wild card game is scheduled to take place Tuesday, though an official game time has not been announced by MLB. That's a mere formality to those in Pittsburgh. The atmosphere around the city and at PNC Park is going to be electric regardless of when Francisco Liriano throws out the first pitch.
That was the other big news announced by Pittsburgh on Saturday. Liriano has been selected by Clint Hurdle to take the ball in the elimination game, which comes as little surprise. In 11 home starts this season, Liriano is 8-1 with a sparkling 1.47. Against the Reds, he's 0-3 with a 3.70 ERA over four starts.
The Reds announced they will counter with Johnny Cueto. Previously, Mat Latos had widely been considered the favorite coming into Saturday, but manager Dusty Baker will go with his ace just two starts removed from a three-month stint on the DL. Cueto had been dealing the same lat injury that first surfaced during last year's playoffs. It's a risky proposition for Baker, but Cueto has looked sharp allowing only one run over 12 innings since his return.
Of course we'll be throwing all of those numbers and the medical records out the window when the game starts on Tuesday. In one game, just about anything can happen. But the one thing we can definitely count on is PNC Park will be rocking for its first ever postseason game.