The Pirates and the Reds are preparing for playoff like series tilt at Great American Ball Park this weekend, a three game series to determine who would host the National League Wild Card Game on Tuesday.
That question hasn’t yet been raised on either side. The teams have split 16 meetings. Whoever takes it gets the keys to Tuesday’s game. The Pirates one game lead over the Reds does not matter, since two Reds wins to create a tie in the standings would give them hosting rights based on head to head play.
Probable Cincinnati Wild Card Game starter Mat Latos splits are not quite as dramatic, but still significant: The righty is 9-2 with a 2.77 ERA at home and 5-5 with a 3.48 ERA on the road including an ERA of 3.86 in three starts at PNC Park this season. He will be opposed by Pirates ace starter Fransisco Liriano who is a dominant pitcher at home with a ERA under 2 but on the road he is far less from that with a earned run average over 4.20 so this makes this weekend showdown crucial.
The pitching probables for the weekend series will be Homer Bailey vs AJ Burnett on Friday night (7:10pm) , Bronson Arroyo taking on Charlie Morton on Saturday afternoon (1:05pm) and Johnny Cueto squaring off against Pirates rookie prospect pitcher Garrett Cole on Sunday afternoon (1:10pm).
This season, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati became a match up worthy of a rivalry. Six of the games have been decided by one run, and all but three of the 16 games were decided by three runs or fewer.
The Reds and Pirates pitching staffs have combined to hit 24 batters this season, which is third most between any two teams in the Majors. Prior to the start of the teams series last weekend at PNC Park, the umpiring crew was to be cautioned about the possibility of another beam war emotions in this rivalry boiling over.
That alert had led to warnings to both benches on Friday night after Reds reliever Sam LeCure had hit Andrew McCutchen with a pitch which led to Clint Hurdle’s ejection for arguing that rather than giving warnings to the benches, it was obvious that LeCure was not trying to hit McCutchen in that position of the game where the Reds were trailing by three but eventually came back in dramatic fashion and won it in 10 innings 6-5.
As far as regular season games go, they don’t get much bigger than the ones this weekend. So expect a defiant playoff atmosphere this weekend at the ball park and for Reds fans they are hoping for 4 more games to watch their team meaning that with a series victory against the Pirates they will host the NL one game playoff next Tuesday at 8pm on TBS.