Bucs seek Blackout from fans in Game 3
The Pirates returned the favor on the Cardinals by lighting up the scoreboard to knot up the National League Division Series, bringing some added electricity to the matchup of NL Central rivals.
Now, it's time for a Blackout.
PNC Park will be the venue for Game 3 of the NLDS, and as the Bucs head home having wrested the home-field advantage from the Cards with their Game 2 victory, Pittsburgh's fans will be ready to deliver their black-clad brand of boisterous support for their club.
On top of that atmosphere, the Pirates will have lefty starter Francisco Liriano on the mound after a dominant season against the Cardinals, meeting second-year right-hander Joe Kelly on Sunday (4:30 p.m. ET, TBS).
For Pittsburgh native Neil Walker, the chance to take control of the series before a home crowd hungry to see the first Division Series game in the tradition-rich town is an opportunity the Bucs will savor.
"We know playing at home is more beneficial to us," Walker said after the Pirates took Game 2, 7-1. "We also know that St. Louis not going to be rattled. They've played in a lot of hostile environments. We know we'll have to play good baseball, like today, to be successful."
The Cards head to Pittsburgh knowing they need to win at least one game to bring the series back to St. Louis, and they know what to expect from the environment at PNC Park.
"They're going to be rowdy, and they're going to be into it. And they should be, just like our fans have been," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said.
While they've dealt well with any environment and have overcome challenges throughout the season, the Cards have not been able to handle Liriano thus far this season. The veteran lefty has gone 3-0 with a 1.13 ERA against St. Louis in three starts this year, spinning eight scoreless innings against them his last time facing the Redbirds on Aug. 30. Overall, Liriano has been masterful at home, going 8-1 with a 1.47 ERA in 11 starts at PNC Park.
For the Pirates, the situation couldn't be much more comfortable under the tense conditions of October baseball.
"Now we're getting to back to our house, which has been a good place for us to play, and we'll have Liriano on the mound," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. "So from that standpoint, we're set up as strong as we could want to be set up for Game 3."
For the Cardinals, facing Liriano means an opportunity to turn things around against a pitcher who has done a lot of damage against them this season.
"I know Liriano has pitched great and all that, but you never know," said veteran outfielder Carlos Beltran, who has gone 3-for-10 while the Cards overall have batted .149 against Liriano. "Starters sometimes don't feel it, and all of a sudden, they start putting balls down the middle and the other team takes advantage of it. I know they're hoping for him to pitch a good game, and we're hoping he throws some pitches right down the middle."
The Cardinals are countering with Kelly, who went 10-2 with a 2.18 ERA in 15 outings since joining the rotation July 6. He made consecutive starts against the Pirates at the beginning of September, winning both by pitching six innings and allowing just one run.
This will be a different and bigger stage, but Kelly is looking forward to the opportunity.
"It's going to be fun," Kelly said. "I'm going to face a good pitcher in Liriano."
And, of course, it'll all take place under Blackout conditions. #LetsGoBucs
Read Full Story - MLB.com
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