Pirates prepare for Cardinals in NLDS

Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pittsburgh Pirates went 7,658 days between playoff wins, but Tuesday night’s 6-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds in the National League Wild Card game ended the drought.

Next up for the Pirates is another NL Central foe, the St. Louis Cardinals.  Pittsburgh won the regular season series 10-9, with those ten wins being the most of any Cards opponent.

“We know them,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said after Tuesday night’s win.  “They’re good.  We’re good.  We can’t wait to play them.  Whoever’s next is next.  It’s the Cardinals.  It’ll be fun.”

Third baseman Pedro Alvarez talked about the familiarity the two teams have with one another.  “It feels like we’re playing these guys every other day.  It doesn’t get any easier, obviously.  Every time we play these teams it’s a battle.  And that’s what it’s going to boil down to these next few days.”

“They’re tough.  One of the best teams in baseball,” Pirates outfielder Marlon Byrd added.  “They know how to pitch.  They know how to catch it.  Drive in runs with runners in scoring position.  Great fans.  So we’re going to have to go in there and try to strike firs and quiet the fans.”

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As for any statement the Wild Card win may have made to the rest of baseball, the Pirates feel it has already been made through their first 162 games.

“We’ve been playing well all year,” Pirates second baseman Neil Walker said.  “I don’t know why this is a surprise.  This has been our team.  We’ve pitched well.  We play good defense. And we have timely hitting… so if you still don’t believe, I don’t know what to tell you because we’re playing good baseball.”

Pittsburgh All-Star center fielder Andrew McCutchen, while getting champagne poured on him by starting pitcher AJ Burnett, had an even more straight-forward response.

“Yeah, we’re for real,” McCutchen said.  “We’re for real, baby.  It feels good.”

Game 1 of the NLDS takes place Thursday evening down in St. Louis.  First pitch is set for 5:07 pm EST.

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