No team in the entire MLB playoffs sounded as confident after a game as the Pittsburgh Pirates sounded after their game one defeat. It was almost like they knew they would win the next two games and have the St. Louis Cardinals on the ropes in NLDS game four. They do in fact have that situation at home in PNC Park. They can advance to the NLCS with a win today. To try and convert that win they are sending Charlie Morton to the mound. That might make things a little more interesting than the Pirates hope.
In three starts against the Cardinals this season, Morton has given up 12 runs. That is 12 runs in 13.2 innings to be exact and in case you are counting, that is not good. He gave up a five spot to them at PNC Park as well as one really bad 1.2 inning start not too long ago in St. Louis. He did have one seven inning start where he gave up only 2 earned runs in a losing cause. How things go in the elimination game today might depend completely on how Morton pitches with the crowd given momentum that he will take to the mound.
Morton is no rookie but he has never pitched in a setting like this. Few have for that matter but how he handles it will determine if he gets off to a good start or a bad one. If he gets off to a bad start it could put rookie Michael Wacha for the Cardinals at ease before his huge start and they do not want that. Morton can afford mistakes in the game but he cannot afford to make a lot of early mistakes. His job needs to be to keep the Pirates in the game until their offense can rattle Wacha. That might take one inning or it might take 7 – 9 innings. To be sure, a win today is far from guaranteed for the Pirates.