The top three teams of the National League Central the Cardinals, Pirates and Reds have pulled their weight in the excitement part as it will be a fight to the finish. Two of the teams Pittsburgh and Cincinnati meet each other in six of their final nine games. The first three games beginning tonight at PNC Park.
After St. Louis lost to the Rockies, 7-6, in 15 innings yesterday afternoon, the Pirates moved to one game back of first, while the Reds are two back, sitting in third place.
Both teams still have their eyes on overtaking St. Louis for the NL Central title. But short of that, and more realistically, these final two series could very well decide who will host the NL Wild Card Game on Tuesday, Oct. 1. Both teams also need to hold off the Nationals for the final playoff spot.
Coming off series losses to the Cubs at home and in Milwaukee after beating the Cardinals and Dodgers to start off the month of September, the Reds got back on track by sweeping the Astros obviously the worst team in baseball.
This season, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati have became a rivalry just like in football and that just makes it fun. The Pirates, enjoying their first winning season in like forever, hold a 7-6 advantage in the season series. But five of the games have been decided by one run. The Pirates have won four of the six games over the Reds at PNC Park. Last time the two teams met they split the four game series at Great American Ball Park on June 16-20.
“We are going to hold our destiny in our hands the next week and a half,” said Reds starter Mat Latos who starts tonight. “You look at the way we’ve played against Pittsburgh, it really hasn’t been too great this season. Earlier in the year, there were a couple of blown saves and a couple where we played bad.”
The Reds and Pirates pitching staffs have been accustomed to hitting the oppositions with pitches in the season series a crazy combined 22 hit batters this season. Shin Soo-Choo has been plunked six times. Second baseman Brandon Phillips was hit on June 1st on the forearm that put him out for a week.
The Reds set up their rotation to get three of their best starters for the series. Latos will be going for a career high 15 wins against 16 game winner Fransisco Liriano tonight. Homer Bailey, who threw a no-hitter at Pittsburgh last season, faces AJ Burnett Saturday, and Bronson Arroyo will face Jeff Locke on Sunday.
It should be a playoff atmosphere in Pittsburgh this weekend, taking 2 out of 3 would be huge, but a sweep would be so nice. After the series Reds return home to take on the Mets Mon-Wed then these Pirates come to Great American to wrap up the regular season next Fri, Sat, Sun.