We’ve been lying all season about Pittsburgh’s inability to produce at the plate. This idea that the Pirates didn’t have the bats to really keep up is a fallacy, and that’s not just an overreaction to a one-and-done Wild Card playoff game in which Pittsburgh took out Cincinnati by a score of 6-2.
From start to finish in Tuesday night’s game, the Pirates took it to the Reds, starting with demoralizing Johnny Cueto in the early innings. Marlon Byrd touched Cueto up in the second inning with a home run deep to left field, and Russell Martin kicked off his impressive individual performance with the first of his two homers that night.
All of a sudden the Buccos were like bombers, and that’s before we discuss how well Francisco Loriano dealt for Pittsburgh on the mound, and the defense that played behind him.
The Pirates have been waiting 21 years for this moment, even though no one could have imagined it would take this long to feel this good about a baseball team. Even with the usual customers in the MLB postseason, there’s usually an opportunity for everyone to improve over a 21-year period.
Not the Pirates, though. With all of that history from the '60s and '70s, they faded into the shadows of baseball relevance during the rise of Generation X.
For the Reds, this loss was completely debilitating considering the expectations they've placed on themselves based on the their recent regular season success. In the playoff however, they've been less than stellar.
Last year, the Reds lost three at home for the first time all year to lose the NL Division Series to San Francisco. It is the third time in three years that the Reds have made the postseason and failed to advance beyond the first round.
"It's a bit of deja vu," Joey Votto said, via the Cincinnati Enquirer. "It's really disappointing. It's such a quick turnaround. There's so much hope going into this game. The anticipation of hopping on plane and going to play an important series in St. Louis. The Pirates played better today."
That’s an interesting takeaway at the end of a season in which many experts were picking the Reds as the team to be in the National League Central, and possibly one of the better teams in all of Major League Baseball.
Reality could settle in for the Pirates when they face an always impressive St. Louis squad, but this is set up to be the most compelling series of the division round. Get your peanuts.