The Pittsburgh Pirates had a chance to control their fate in regards to determining the location of the National League Wild Card game and with a 4-0 win against the Cincinnati Reds Sunday afternoon, will ensure that it is played at PNC Park.
“I’m proud of our team regardless of anything else that has gone on,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “We won 98 ballgames, we’ve got a home field game in the wild card, everybody in that clubhouse contributed something this season and we’ll look forward to that next step.”
A first inning run put the Pirates ahead, as Neil Walker singled in Josh Harrison, who recorded a one-out double, his 28th of the season.
Pedro Alvarez then hit a fourth inning leadoff home run on a 1-2 fastball from Josh Smith [0-4] fastball. The ball cleared the right-center field seats and would have gone in the river had it not been grabbed by a fan outside of the stadium. The 479-foot home run was hit 115 miles-per-hour off the bat. Alvarez now has had 22 of his 27 home runs come with the bases empty and the homer snapped an 0-for-9 streak at the plate.
A third run was added in the sixth inning on a Jordy Mercer double. His double scored Francisco Cervelli who had doubled in the previous at-bat. Cervelli’s double snapped an 0-for-14 streak at the plate.
Sam LeCure pitched the seventh inning and allowed back-to-back doubles to Gregory Polanco and Josh Harrison, which resulted in the fourth run scoring.
J.A. Happ [7-2] pitched six innings and looked to be in some trouble in the sixth, as Brandon Phillips singled and Joey Votto advanced to third, however Starling Marte threw out Phillips as he tried to advance to second base. It was Marte’s National League leading 16th assist of the season. Happ reacted with a fist pump to end his outing.
“A couple of changeups were big for me against some of the right handers,” said Happ. “The middle of that lineup is super tough so I tried to locate and mix it up and I mixed it up just enough.”
This concludes the regular season and the Pirates finished with 98 wins, its highest total since 1991 [also 98 wins]. Up next is the wild card game which will be played Wednesday. Gerrit Cole will pitch for the Pirates against Jake Arrieta. The Cubs defeated the Milwaukee Brewers by a 3-1 score Sunday afternoon forcing the Pirates to win this contest in order to host the wild card game.
“Last year I was on vacation and somewhere a TV was showing Pirates and Giants and that was unbelievable,” Cervelli said. “They were showing the noise and I can’t wait to see it Wednesday.”
Both Harrison and Andrew McCutchen have asked the fans for another blackout of PNC Park.
“If I could get an early birthday present it would be for everyone to come and black it out,” said McCutchen. “We need you to be the 10th man or 10th woman out there for us.”
Photo credit: Keith Srakocic/AP Photo