The magical season for the Pittsburgh Pirates continues Friday afternoon in St. Louis. The Bucs will take on the Cardinals in Game 2 of the NLDS after losing Game 1 on Thursday, 9-1.
Pittsburgh has had to overcome a lot just to get to where it is after defeating the Cincinnati Reds in the one-game, wild-card playoff Tuesday. Now, it is enjoying its first taste of postseason play since 1992. The momentum this team has could be enough to propel them past the Cardinals.
But if Thursday's drubbing is any indication of how this series will go, it may need more than just momentum.
Friday, the Bucs will have Gerrit Cole on the bump. Cole, who was drafted first overall in 2011, made his Major League debut in June this season. For the year, the 23-year-old was very impressive, going 10-7 with a 3.22 ERA and an even 100 punchouts. He seemed to get better as the season progressed.
It's hard to call any Game 2 a "must-win," but you can be sure the Pirates would love to go back to Pittsburgh tied at 1-1 as opposed to down 2-0. Cole is going to have to be on his game Friday against the Cardinals, a team he did not face in the regular season.
The Pirates are also going to have to be cleaner on the field. They committed three errors in Thursday's loss. Defense has been a bit of a problem for them all year, as they committed 106 errors during the regular season, which put them at fifth most in the National League.
St. Louis Cardinals
After winning Game 1 on Thursday, the Cardinals will roll Lance Lynn to the mound for Game 2 on Friday. The big key for Lynn will be to continue to keep the ball in the park and ideally on the ground.
The Pirates have shown a knack for hitting the long ball. They slugged six home runs against the Reds on Saturday, and they added three more Tuesday. So Lynn's challenge will be to tame the power hitters in the Pittsburgh offense.
Meanwhile, Lynn induced 18 ground-ball double plays in the regular season, which was tied for 13th in the league among pitchers. If he can keep that going for Game 2, the Cardinals should be in good shape when the series shifts to Pittsburgh on Sunday.