After disposing of Cincinnati on Tuesday night, the Pittsburgh Pirates were very confident heading into their NLDS opener against the St. Louis Cardinals. But the Cards were prepared and handed them a 9-1 thrashing at Busch Stadium to officially open up the divisional series.
St. Louis swept the Pirates the last time two met at Busch in September, and continued that momentum to start the NLDS. The day belonged to Cards ace Adam Wainwright, who mowed down the first 11 batters he faced before finally surrendering a single to Andrew McCutchen in the top of the fourth.
But the offense gave him plenty of support to work with, firing off a seven-run third inning. Pirates starter AJ Burnett was in trouble from the start of the inning. He committed the ultimate pitching sin, by walking the opposing pitcher to start the inning. Carlos Beltron came up two batters later and belted a three-run homer to put the Cards on the board.
He would hit Matt Adams, then gave up two big walks. He walked Molina to load the bases, then walked Jon Jay to force a run home. David Freese, who is no stranger to playoff heroics, then scored Molina and Jay on a single. Marlon Byrd was charged with a throwing error, as his return throw deflected off first baseman Justin Morneau. Burnett would throw 37 pitches in the third inning, and never record an out. After the Freese RBI, he was relieved of his duties on the mound.
The Cardinals would get two more runs, courtesy of an RBI single from Daniel Descalso in the fifth and an RBI double from Molina in the sixth. They had pretty much wrapped up any hope Pittsburgh had in that third inning outburst. The Pirates did get a home run from Pedro Alvarez, but it did little to soften the blow delivered by an amped up St. Louis club.
The official numbers on Burnett are dismal at best, getting blasted for seven runs on only six hits. He lasted two full innings before the bullpen had to get an early start. Wainwright on the other hand, went seven strong innings, allowing just one run on three hits and struck out nine. Cardinals manager Mike Matheny was very pleased with the performance.
To be able to get out on a good first step and play well today, I think is big for our guys confidence-wise. It also gives us an opportunity to just take some momentum, and momentum is big right now when you talk about a five-game series.
Game 2 of the NLDS between the Cards and Pirates goes down on Friday afternoon, with first pitch at Busch Stadium set for 1:00 P.M. Eastern. Lance Lynn gets the start for St. Louis, while rookie right-hander Gerrit Cole will start for the Pirates. Lynn has been very successful at home this year, so that may factor in to how this game goes along. MLB Network will have exclusive coverage of this game.