NLDS: 5 Reasons St. Louis Cardinals Should Be Worried to Play Pittsburgh Pirates

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NLDS: 5 Reasons St. Louis Cardinals Should Be Worried to Play Pittsburgh Pirates

pirates
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

You hear that? That’s the sound of the bandwagon pulling into Pittsburgh. In all seriousness, the Pittsburgh Pirates fans are crazy! Tuesday night’s National League Wild Card game is exactly what postseason baseball is all about. After watching the Pirates clinch their first playoff win since the 1992 season, it appears there is no stopping them. Pittsburgh is on a mission to make the fan base forget about the past 20 embarrassing years, which is why the St. Louis Cardinals have to be worried.

Want to know what is even scarier for the other three teams in the National League? The Pirates believe they are destined to clinch a World Series berth. This is not a situation in which the team is happy to be in the playoffs and whatever happens, happens. Pittsburgh believes fate is finally going to throw them a bone, and they are going to do everything in their power to make it a little easier.

"We're for real," slugger Andrew McCutchen told ESPN.com after the Wild Card win. "We're definitely for real."

"We didn't talk about one-and-done; we talked about one and run," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "Win one and run to St. Louis."

"This is 20 years of waiting. You're seeing it all come out in one night," said catcher Russell Martin. "Hopefully we can keep this atmosphere 'til late October."

Three fantastic quotes from three men who did not just play a huge role during the postseason win but also throughout the entire 2013 season. Make sure to click through the slideshow to see five reasons the Cardinals should be worried to face the Pirates in the National League Division Series.

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5. Momentum

Momentum
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

I would not say people were surprised to see the Pirates defeat the Cincinnati Reds in Tuesday’s NL Wild Card matchup. With that being said, I do not think anyone expected to see the offensive talent that was displayed, at least not to that degree. Pittsburgh has clearly used momentum to their advantage, and after last night, do not expect it to slow down at this point. The Cardinals have homefield advantage but if the Pirates can steal a win on the road then St. Louis could be in big trouble.

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4. Russell Martin

Martin
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Martin is the most experienced player on the team when it comes to the playoffs, which means he must unite the players every chance he gets. Obviously, he took advantage of that against the Reds when he belted two home runs and went 3-for-4 at the plate. Even though he had an average performance offensively for his standards during the regular season, there is no question he has plenty of power to make any pitcher in the playoffs nervous. Look for Martin to lead the team with his voice in the clubhouse and his play on the field throughout the NLDS.

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3. Team Chemistry

Chemistry
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pirates are not a flashy offensive team. Pedro Alvarez is the only player on Pittsburgh to hit over 30 home runs and record 100 RBI, and he did it by batting .233. The next two most productive players were McCutchen and Martin who hit 21 homers, 84 RBI and 15 homers, 55 RBI respectively. With that being said, the Pirates still ranked third in the NL in home runs (161) and ninth in RBI (603).

Basically, team chemistry is the only way Pittsburgh is going to get it going offensively. When one person falters, another player must step up. It is a formula that has worked for them all season and it definitely cannot stop now. Why is it something that should have the Cardinals worried? Obviously, stopping McCutchen is the first order of business. However, even if that is accomplished someone else will pick up the slack.

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2. Andrew McCutchen

McCutchen
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Speaking of McCutchen, he is what will make the Pirates tick in the NLDS. If Pittsburgh wants any shot of a NLCS berth, he will have to be the man who takes them there. The fans know it, the players know it and McCutchen knows it. It certainly is a lot of pressure for someone who has only one playoff game under his belt. The good news is he has waited a long time for his opportunity to shine under the bright lights when it matters most.

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1. Pitching

Pitching
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Pittsburgh’s bread and butter and the reason they are in the playoffs. The outstanding pitching this season has given the Pirates confidence that going the distance is a realistic possibility. Pittsburgh ranked third in the NL in earned run average (3.26), third in strikeouts (1,261) and second in opponent batting average (.238) during the regular season. As good as the starting rotation has been it is the bullpen that gets the attention. An impressive 2.89 ERA and NL-best 55 saves means if the Pirates get the lead at any point the Cardinals will have an incredibly difficult time regaining it.

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