Chris Moore| BKD TV Insiders
The American League Wildcard game was everything the MLB could’ve hoped for and more when they implemented the new playoff format. Chaos, strategy, and everything else you could think of with a one game playoff determining an teams entire season. Tonight, we do it all over again. The National League Wildcard has two teams that could be considered legitimate threats to make runs to the World Series. The Giants bring postseason swagger to the table and an ace that has emerged as one of the best in the game in Madison Bumgarner. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh is beginning to make themselves serious playoff contenders everywhere behind the play of their All-Star outfielder; Andrew McCutchen.
The Giants won the World Series in 2010, and 2012. Well, another even year and another shot at a World Series title in San Fran. This years team is different. They don’t have the 2010 Tim Lincecum or the 2012 Matt Cain for that matter. Nope, this team has someone who might be better. Madison Bumgarner is the real deal. He’s not going to win a Cy Young like Lincecum did but that’s got a lot to do with a guy named Clayton Kershaw. Bumgarner finished this year with a 2.98 ERA after finishing out last year with a 2.77 ERA. The scariest part about Bumgarner? He’s better on the road. A 2.22 ERA with an 11-4 record on the road. However, he faced Pittsburgh once this year and did not fair well. He went just 4 innings after giving up 5 earned runs. The 2014 Giants however don’t have to rely on pitching. They can hit. Buster Posey, arguably the best offensive catcher in the game, leads them in almost every offensive category. Posey hit .311 with 29 homers and 89 rbi’s. They also have a spark plug and his name is Hunter Pence. Hunter Pence has improved so much that he has actually become an underrated ball player. A .277 average, 20 homeruns, and 13 stolen bases tells you he can do a lot of things and beat you in multiple ways. The Giants will need Posey, Pence, and Bumgarner to perform to win tonight.
As for the Pirates, many believe that Pittsburgh is a one man show on offense. Josh Harrison emerged as a big time player in baseball this year with a .315 average to go with 18 stolen bases and 13 homeruns. He joined Starling Marte, Russell Martin, and Neil Walker as Andrew McCutchen’s running mates in the Pirate offense. The starter tonight for Pittsburgh will be Edinson Volquez. He’s bounced around a lot and has made a home with the Pirates this year posting a 3.04 ERA with a 13-7 record. Volquez is a very similar pitcher at home as he is on the road this year. His home numbers are an 8-5 record with a 3.06 ERA. He has not faced the Giants this year and that might be the reason Clint Hurdle is giving him the ball. He also pitched in the postseason with the Reds in 2010 but he struggled mightily as the Phillies knocked him out in the second inning.
After last night, I don’t want to make a prediction because the game of baseball will make you look like a fool. Especially in the playoffs but the boss says he needs a prediction. This game is a toss up but there’s something about this Giants team in even years that makes me believe they are going to win this game and head to Washington to play the Nationals in the NLDS. Tune in to ESPN at 8 o’clock to watch.
Byron K. Dixon- Pirates
Chris Moore- Giants
Darrien Coleman- Pirates
Demarus Dye- Giants