Pirates Notebook: Familiarity a major factor

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ST. LOUIS -- There is little mystery remaining between the Pirates and the St. louis Cardinals as they gear up for the National League Division Series.

Except for the outcome, of course.

The batters know how pitchers will attack them. The pitchers know where they can, and where they can't, make mistakes against opposing hitters. That familiarity can often neutralize many advantages teams might otherwise enjoy.

The division rivals played 19 games against each other this season, with the Pirates winning 10, and both teams revealed a lot about themselves in each of those matchups.

"There are no secrets on what either club is trying to do out there," said pitcher Adam Wainwright, who will start tonight for the Cardinals. "We know each other's players very well. They probably know how I'm going to approach their at-bats, and we probably know how they're going to do ours.

"So the key is execution."

Pirates starter A.J. Burnett made six starts against the Cardinals this season -- more than any other team he has faced this year. In those starts, he has been good, bad and everything in between.

"It's a great lineup over there," Burnett said. "You can't make too many mistakes because they'll capitalize on them. The good games, I've limited those. And the ones that have got me, I haven't been able to execute."

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said there is less scouting than other playoff series.

"We ought to know each other by now," he said.

Rotation for series

Rookie Gerrit Cole will start Game 2 of the series Friday in St. Louis, and Francisco Liriano, who earned his first career playoff win Tuesday in the wild-card game, will start Game 3 Sunday at PNC Park, manager Clint Hurdle said Wednesday.

If a Game 4 is necessary, Charlie Morton will make his first postseason start.

Reds' Cueto: I wasn't rattled

For the 40,487 fans who were at PNC Park Tuesday, there was a strong correlation between their treatment of Reds starter Johnny Cueto and the right-hander's struggles.

But for Cueto, the fact that he dropped the ball off the mound and later gave up a home run as the horde chanted "Cue-to, Cue-to, Cue-to" was merely coincidence.

"You may think I was scared when that ball dropped, but that ball dropped," Cueto said Tuesday as interpreted by team athletic trainer Tomas Vera. "The ball dropped."

Cueto was pulled from the game with one out in the fourth inning and gave up four runs, three earned, on seven hits.

"I don't care about those things," Cueto said. "I don't listen to them. It's like opening day. It's like any other game. That doesn't scare me. Nothing happened with the crowd."

Pirates impress Burnett

Burnett and catcher Russell Martin talked with teammates before their first postseason game about what to expect with nerves and relaxation. But the veteran pitcher said his team taught him something with their performance Tuesday.

"They're not content with being the wild card," he said. "They're not content with getting where we're at. They want to go further. They want to dump more champagne on each other, they want to celebrate more and they want to win more."

Watch party for Game 1

Taking a cue from the Penguins, the Pirates will erect a big screen on Federal Street outside PNC Park tonight to broadcast Game 1 of the NLDS.

The Pirates encourage fans to bring their own comfortable seating in front of the 15-by-20-foot screen. The postseason watch party, weather permitting, also will include food vendors. There will be limited parking in Red Lot Six, beginning at 4 p.m. The game starts at 5:07.

Game 3 start time

The league has not announced start times for division series games beyond Saturday, but TBS listed a 5:07 p.m. start time for Game 3 between the Pirates and Cardinals Sunday at PNC Park.

Commemorative ball

Five thousand officially licensed Rawlings baseballs will be produced to celebrate the Pirates winning the wild-card championship and celebrating their first postseason appearance in 21 years. Each ball comes with a handsome acrylic display case for $39.95. Sales will benefit Pirates Charities. For information call, 1-800-345-2868 or visit, www.nikcosports.com.


Michael Sanserino: msanserino@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1722 and Twitter @msanserino. First Published October 3, 2013 4:00 AM


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