NL Wild Card Game 2013: Pittsburgh Pirates Officially Cinderella Story of MLB

Tyler BrookeSenior Analyst IIOctober 2, 2013

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 01:  Jason Grilli #39 and Russell Martin #55 of the Pittsburgh Pirates celebrate their 6 to 2 win over the Cincinnati Reds during the National League Wild Card game at PNC Park on October 1, 2013 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Clint Hurdle and the Pittsburgh Pirates have officially become the Cinderella Story of the 2013 MLB season after their NL Wild Card Game win, and the good portion of the country is now rooting for these exciting underdogs.

After not reaching the playoffs since 1992, the Pirates were able to finally make it back to the postseason and beat the Cincinnati Reds 6-2 to advance to the National League Division Series, where they will be playing the St. Louis Cardinals.

Francisco Liriano stepped up big when it mattered, tossing a gem in the win.  He tossed seven strong innings, allowing just four hits and one run while striking out five batters and getting the win.

After so many years of inconsistency, Liriano finally looked like a playoff-ready pitcher once again.

The bats were alive as well with the Pirates generating six runs on an impressive 14 hits.  They got three home runs on the night as well, with one from Marlon Byrd and two from Russell Martin.

Speaking of Martin, there was a great moment in the game that just proved how much fun this team is going to be to watch for the rest of their playoff run, especially when they're at home. 

While Martin was at bat, Pirates fans were chanting "Cueto" in order to rattle the Reds' starting pitcher.  What happened next was truly awesome.

For fans to make that significant of an impact on a game, it's something that just doesn't happen often and is always fun to watch when it does.

The Pirates have become the true underdogs that so many people are pulling for because of their history.  Over 20 years without playoff baseball in Pittsburgh simply disappeared.  After winning 57 games in 2010, the Pirates began improving, winning 72 in 2011, 79 in in 2012 and then 94 this regular season.

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 1: Michael McKenry #19 and Pedro Alvarez #24 of the Pittsburgh Pirates celebrate in the clubhouse following their 6-2 win against the Cincinnati Reds during the National League Wild Card game at PNC Park October 1, 2013 in Pittsbu
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

The positive attitude exuding from manager Clint Hurdle completely changed the mentality of this baseball team.  To add on to that, the team has continued to develop excellent prospects through their farm system, and several players like Gerrit Cole Starling Marte have made big contributions to this team throughout the season.

To make things even more dramatic, the Pirates will be facing yet another divisional rival in the Cardinals, and it will be a true "David vs. Goliath" battle.

The Cardinals finished the season at 97-65, tied for the best record in the MLB with the Boston Red Sox.  It's going to be an incredibly tough task for the Pirates to take down this team, as the Cardinals rank in the top-five in batting average, runs, on-base percentage and team ERA.  A deep pitching staff led by Adam Wainwright and a strong batting order with players like Yadier Molina, Matt Carpenter and Carlos Beltran make this one of the most dangerous teams in baseball.

They may not have the best chance to take the next series, but isn't that why so many people love this team?  Despite all of the difficulties over the past few seasons, the Pirates are now one of those top-tier teams in baseball, and they'll be looking to pull off an even deeper playoff run.


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