Seventh inning, one-run lead, Beltran up with a man on. Who do you want out of the bullpen?
PhillyJake: Has AJ spoken to the press yet? Will he be in the bullpen? Game two starter against the Dodgers ?
Bill Brink: By the time us in the clubhouse knew who would start Game 5, Burnett had left the clubhouse. He could be available out of the bullpen, but Hurdle implied that his routine as a starter might make it difficult to get up and hot in a timely fashion. I would think he'd be there just in case, maybe for extra innings or if Cole got hurt/lit up early.
Hunter: Any chance Tabata would get the start with a solid history vs. Wainwright and Marte struggling a bit or do we see the same lineup?
Bill Brink: We'll see the same lineup, probably with Barmes at shortstop because of his defense and his surprising performance against Wainwright in his career. Marte is the better player and more of a difference maker, so he will start over Tabata.
Hunter: If the Pirates win is Liriano the game 1 starter vs. the Dodgers?
Bill Brink: Yes. He will be on regular rest and all the way recovered from whatever illness bugged him last week.
JAL: Yesterday you posted that Marte and Walker are 1 for 31. Two slumps or is Marte still bothered by his hand?
Bill Brink: Marte's hand won't fully heal until the offseason, when he has a chance to rest it. The ligament is probably still inflamed. It could have an effect, but I think the tough right-handers the Cardinals have used has more to do with it. Walker is definitely slumping.
the Masked robshelb: 1B next year. Internal or external solution ?? If internal, top candidates ??
Bill Brink: I think Gaby Sanchez will be back, he's still eligible for arbitration. I don't think Garrett Jones returns. He will be due a raise from his $4.5 million salary this year and didn't produce like last season.
JAL: My view of Cole since he came up is that he has transformed from a thrower to a pitcher in very short time. Is that your view?
Bill Brink: I agree. He has used more of his curveball, which from my understanding he didn't use much in college or in his first season in pro ball. That gives him a velocity gap of 99 to 82, as opposed to 99 to 88 on his slider or 85-86 on his changeup. He has looked stronger as the season went on and ironed out some of his first-inning issues.
Drew: How many more solid postseasons does Beltran need to take the "Mr. October" away from Reggie Jackson? Beltran is well worth what the Cardinals are paying him.
Bill Brink: Beltran has to get to, and win, a World Series or two to come close to Mr. October.
Mark: Do you think it's more important for the Pirates to come out and score on Wainwright early or have Cole match him in effective pitching?
Bill Brink: They have to find a way to score against Wainwright. Cole can allow one run in seven innings, but if Wainwright doesn't allow a run it doesn't matter.
the Masked robshelb: Chances of A.J. pitching at all for us in 2014 ?? Chances of Wandy R. pitching at all for us in 2014 ?? Will the PBC be willing just to eat Rodriguez' salary ??
Bill Brink: Burnett liked it here and could return, but it's possible being skipped over for Game 5, the defensive shifts that he doesn't like and more money elsewhere would lure him away. He could also retire.
Nage: Most important player other than Cole for the Bucs today?
Bill Brink: Starling Marte. He needs to get on base early and force Wainwright into the stretch. Neil Walker is also a candidate for this role.
Guest: What's the atmosphere like in St. Louis? Cardinal fans nervous or overly confident?
Bill Brink: At Starbucks this morning, I didn't hear a word, but the bartender last night sounded confident that Wainwright had what it takes. So take that for what it's worth.
Hunter: Were you at all surprised that Hurdle went with the rookie over the veteran in such a big spot?
Bill Brink: Not this time. Burnett's struggles here, for whatever reason, are real. Cole has proven almost impervious to pressure, or at least he pitches like it. The one thing to watch with Cole, though, is he's never had a start that went off the rails early -- 2 2/3 innings, seven runs on nine hits, etc. It'll happen at some point, and against this lineup is as good a bet as any.
the Masked robshelb: Chances of Justin Wilson getting a shot at being the # 5 starter in 2014. (I apparently have young pitchers on my mind.)
Bill Brink: Slim. The rotation next year will be at least Liriano-Cole-Wandy-Morton. That last spot could be Burnett, could be Locke and will eventually be Taillon. Wilson's command issues aren't as big of a factor out of the bullpen and his stuff plays better in short spurts.
Drew: Is Cutch in good spirits after making the final out of game 4 or is does he look like he's ready to win game 5 in his first at bat of game 5?
Bill Brink: He was fine after Game 4. I'm sure he wasn't happy about it but it won't affect him.
Rick: Bill, I say bat Pero 4th Today and my friend says to leave him 6th. He has been too Hot and too Clutch Give him more ABS. Whar do you say ?
Bill Brink: Tough one. Morneau has not done much in the cleanup spot, but at least he's working the count. The slew of right-handed starters the Pirates face means Hurdle will probably keep the same lineup tonight.
Keith: Little has been said about Charlie Morton's performance from the other day. He pitched pretty well, but any thoughts from the Pirates' brass on his effort? Would he start again if the Pirates advance?
Bill Brink: He'll start again if the Pirates advance. He pitched well despite command issues. He missed one pitch to Holliday, but everything else was a walks issue.
Drew: Who do you think the Cardinals fear most in tonight's game? Marte, Walker, Cutch...or Byrd, Pedro, Martin?
Bill Brink: Marte, Walker and McCuchen. Marte and McCutchen are game-changers, so they need to be careful.
JAL: Liriano and Morton the only two pitchers unavailable tonight?
Bill Brink: That's what it sounds like, from what Hurdle said. He might have Burnett in the bullpen, he might not. I'm sure he's available if the game goes deep into extra innings.
PhillyJake: Is this the most exciting game you've ever covered ?
Bill Brink: The wild-card game was a tremendous atmosphere. PNC Park was alive. This should come close, but we'll see.
Nage: Bucs hitters have a decent track record with regards to hitting Wainwright, but way too many swings and misses in Game One of series v. him. Lots of reasons/excuses: First game playoff jitters... Coming down off the emotional high of beating Reds... Wainwright taking a page out of Reds pitching staff with throwing a bunch of curves/breaking balls. In light of those issues, you would expect better production from the lineup tonight, no?
Bill Brink: It always helps lineups to have faced a pitcher recently because his tendencies and stuff are fresh in their minds. In a series, though, both teams have that advantage, so it nullifies itself a bit. Wainwright is also good enough to create a different game plan if he feels the Pirates are onto him.
Mark: Given how effective Wacha was the other day in controlling the rythym of the game what do the pirate hitters need to do tonight to take that control away from Wainwright and do they realize they can make him alter his approach by stepping out and slowing down his routine. Q2 Does this even matter for someone like Wainwright?
Bill Brink: It didn't matter for Wacha, so I don't think it'll matter for Wainwright. They need base runners to force him to pitch out of the stretch and take his attention away from Yadier Molina.
Nage: At the bar last night, beverage of choice was...? (trying to decide what ONE or maybe two beverages to have this evening)
Bill Brink: A Deschutes Obsidian Stout. It was good. I'd recommend it.
Mike in Downtown: Is a June 2014 ETA for Polanco reasonable based on his 2013 performance? What influence would that have on re-signing any internal FA's?
Bill Brink: I think competing for the roster in Spring training 2015 is more likely. He jumped two levels last year and is only 22. It's possible, but I think they'd like to get him a full season in triple-A. A September call-up next year might be more likely.
PhillyJake: Are the guys on the 40 man but not on the 25 man with the team today ?
Bill Brink: The guys that they called up are with the team and allowed to take BP and such, but cannot be with the team in the dugout as I understand it.
Mike in Downtown: Are you packed to go straight to LA if necessary?
Bill Brink: Indeed. Ready to head to Hollywood.
Bill Brink: Lightning round. Go.
Guest: Who is your pick to click tonight for the Pirates?
Ermine: Prediction for tonight? Or don't you want to have to throw out the first pitch, to the Parrot , next season, if you pick the Cards?
Drew: In order to be the best, you've got to beat the best...score prediction for tonight Bill, go!
Bill Brink: Based on Wainwright and the Cardinals offense, I'll say 3-2 Cardinals.
Mark: The Pirates have shown an extremely nice progression over the last three years. Do you fear a loss tonight could set them back in the continued progression towards being a championship club.
Bill Brink: No, this will not set them back. They aren't thinking about this, but this series has backed up their strong regular season. They are still trending upward.
Drew: Do you like the relatively new playoff format so far being that the Pirates are able to finally enjoy some of it this year?
Bill Brink: I think the wild-card game is a great concept for fans and cities. It keeps teams involved, like the Nationals, who otherwise would have been out of it. I'm sure its frustrating for a team that wins 94 games but not its division and has to fight for its life in a one-game playoff.
JAL: How is the St. Louis press box?
Bill Brink: Your standard press box. Though because it's named partly in honor of longtime Post-Dispatch baseball writer Rick Hummel, it's an excellent press box.
Bill Brink: That's it for today, thanks for all the great questions. Hope you enjoy Game 5, and check out the blog for updates this afternoon and evening.
First Published October 9, 2013 9:12 AM