Coming into the NLDS, the St. Louis Cardinals had home field advantage. However, fter the Pittsburgh Pirates were able to win a game at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, the Pirates now have home field advantage. With the series tied at one, it is virtually a best-of-three series now; the Pirates have two of the three remaining games at home in PNC Park.
At home in the regular season, the Pirates finished 50-31, the eighth best home record in MLB. The Pirates have a chance to put the Cards in a significant hole with a home win on Sunday. If Francisco Liriano is able to lead the Bucs to victory, the Cardinals will be with their backs against the wall, needing to win the final two games to move on to the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers or Atlanta Braves.
Luckily for the Pirates, their Game 3 starter, Liriano, is exceptional at PNC Park. Liriano was 8-1 with a 1.47 ERA at home in the regular season. He allowed opposing hitters to hit for a combined .147/.249/.225 line with a .474 OPS at PNC Park. In 11 games started at home, Liriano allowed just two home runs. Some of the Cardinals’ best hitters are lefties, and Liriano is just mean to opposing left-handed batters. Matt Carpenter and Matt Adams are the Cardinals’ biggest lefty threats, but a lefty pitching also forces Carlos Beltran to bat right-handed, where a lot of his power is neutralized. Against lefties at PNC Park, Liriano has allowed a ridiculous .036/.086/.036 slash line. He faced 58 lefties at home, and just two were able to get a hit.
With the Pirates’ best pitcher going Sunday, the odds seem to be in their favor. The Pirates play extremely well at home, and like we all saw in the NL Wild Card game, the PNC Park crowd can be crazy. The Pirates hope they can sweep the final two games of the NLDS so they don’t have to return to Busch Stadium for a possible Game 5 scenario.
Buckle up, it’s going to be fun to watch.