Friday, September 27, 2013

Ten things you need to know for Pirates series

It should go without saying, but this weekend could very well mark the biggest regular season series in Great American Ball Park history as the Reds play host to the Pirates. Both teams have already punched their proverbial ticket to the postseason, however, the right to host next Tuesday's Wild Card game is still very much up for grabs. It should make for an electric atmosphere in Cincinnati.

Here are 10 things you need to know for the weekend:

1) Entering Friday, the Pirates hold a one-game lead over the Reds for the top Wild Card spot. Thus, they also hold the privilege of hosting the Wild Card game. However, if the Reds can win two out of three in this weekend's series, they will earn the coveted right to host the Wild Card game, instead. This is because they would have an identical record as the Pirates, but would gain an edge over them via the tiebreaker, which goes by head-to-head season record. The season series is currently tied 8-8.

2) The pitching matchups for the trio of games is as follows:

Friday (7:10): PIT A.J. Burnett (9-11) vs CIN Homer Bailey (11-11)
Saturday (1:05): PIT Charlie Morton (7-4) vs CIN Bronson Arroyo (14-11)
Sunday (1:10): PIT Gerrit Cole (10-7) vs CIN Johnny Cueto (5-2)

3) Burnett is 6-6 with a 3.93 ERA in 15 career starts against the Reds. However, he is just 2-5 with a 5.36 ERA when pitching in Cincinnati (8 career starts).

4) Bailey tossed a no-hitter against the Pirates in the final week of last season.

5) This series features two of the top four pitching staffs in the league. Pittsburgh ranks second with a team ERA of 3.29 while Cincinnati ranks fourth with a 3.35 ERA.

6) The Reds hold a considerable advantage over the Pirates when it comes to defense. Cincinnati has committed the second-fewest errors in the league (75) while Pittsburgh ranks 13th with 106.

7) Eleven of the sixteen games played between these two clubs this season have been decided by two runs or less. This includes seven of the last eight games played.

8) The Pirates are 41-37 on the road in 2013. The Reds are 49-28 at home.

9) The Reds established a new GAPB single-season attendance record on Wednesday (2,371,103). They will undoubtedly increase that figure in this series versus the Buccos.

10) Regardless of the outcome of this series, the pitching matchup has already been set for Tuesday's Wild Card game between these two teams. Clint Hurdle will march out southpaw Francisco Liriano (16-8) opposite of Mat Latos (14-7) for the Reds. Both pitchers are coming off rare losing decisions in their final starts before the playoffs.

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