Top things to know: NL Wild Card
October, 1, 2013
By ESPN Stats & Information | ESPN.com
AP PhotosJohnny Cueto and Francisco Liriano will start for the Reds and Pirates in tonight's NL Wild Card game.
Tonight’s game against the Cincinnati Reds in the NL Wild Card Game is the first home playoff game for the Pirates since Bob Walk pitched a complete-game three-hitter Oct. 11, 1992, in Pittsburgh’s 7-1 win against the Atlanta Braves in Game 5 of the NLCS.
Here are a few storylines for tonight’s game.
1. The Pirates won the season series against the Reds 11-8, including a season-ending sweep this past weekend in Cincinnati.
This is the first meeting between these teams in the postseason since the 1990 NLCS, which the Reds won 4-2. The Reds have won 13 of 20 meetings against the Pirates in the postseason.
2. Johnny Cueto will take the mound for the Reds tonight. He’s 13-4 with a 2.37 ERA in 21 career starts against the Pirates, including 7-2 with a 1.43 ERA in his last 12 starts against Pittsburgh.
In his last start vs. the Bucs on May 31, Cueto threw eight shutout innings, allowing one hit and striking out six in the win.
3. Francisco Liriano will make the start for Pittsburgh in a park where he has excelled this season. Liriano is 8-1 with a 1.47 ERA in 11 starts at PNC Park this season compared to an 8-7 record with a 4.33 ERA in 15 road starts.
Against the Reds, he’s 0-3 with a 3.70 ERA in four starts this season. Pittsburgh lost all four of those games.
Liriano is a three-pitch pitcher who throws a fastball, slider and changeup. One of his downfalls against the Reds this season has been the ineffectiveness of his changeup. Overall, opponents are hitting .273 against that pitch, but the Reds are hitting .353.
4. Marlon Byrd and Andrew McCutchen have had a lot of success against Cueto during their careers. Byrd is hitting .583 (7-of-12) with a home run and three RBI. Three of McCutchen’s nine career hits against Cueto are home runs.
On the other side, Shin-Soo Choo, Jay Bruce and Joey Votto are a combined .154 (8-of-52) in their careers against Liriano.
5. Pittsburgh has not won a World Series title since the “We are Family” team in 1979. The 34-year drought is the third longest active streak in baseball (among franchises that have won at least once).
The 105-year drought for the Chicago Cubs and 65-year drought for the Cleveland Indians are the only longer active streaks.