Pirates notebook: Cards' Lynn looks ahead to Game 2
ST. LOUIS — Lance Lynn has gone to the playoffs in each of his first three seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals. On Friday, the 26-year-old righty will start Game 2 of the National League Division Series against the Pirates.
Lynn said he is trying to approach it like any other game.
“It doesn't matter if it's regular season, postseason, whatever. You're just thinking about one thing: Get the job done for your team and give them a chance to win,” Lynn said.
Lynn earned the Game 2 start by surging in September. He ended the month with four straight quality starts, going 3-1 with a 1.09 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny announced righty Joe Kelly will start Game 3 on Sunday in Pittsburgh. That means Michel Wacha or Shelby Miller will not start in the series, assuming the Cardinals use a four-man rotation.
Wacha, a first-round pick in 2012, was impressive in 15 outings (nine starts) this season, going 4-1 with a 2.78 ERA. He had a 1.78 ERA in September and gave up just one hit in 8 2⁄3 innings in his final start of the season.
Miller was the first Cardinals rookie since Rick Ankiel in 2000 to start at least 30 games. He went 16-9 with a 3.06 ERA and had a 3.76 ERA in September.
Game 3 time set
Game 3 will start at 4:37 p.m. Sunday at PNC Park. Pittsburgh has hosted several league championship series and World Series games, but this will be the city's first division series game.
Left-hander Francisco Liriano, one of the heroes of Tuesday's wild-card game victory against the Cincinnati Reds, will start for the Pirates.
Game 4, if necessary, will be played Monday at PNC Park. The starting time for that game has not yet been announced.
The Pirates will put a limited number of tickets for the National League Championship Series on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday at PNC Park.
Tickets will be sold through a random-numbered distribution system. Numbered wristbands will be distributed from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday and from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. Saturday at PNC Park. Wristbands do not guarantee a ticket.
The Pirates reset their roster for the NL Division Series, swapping a pair of starting pitchers for outfielder Travis Snider and catcher Tony Sanchez.
Snider and Sanchez were on the wild-card roster. For the series against the St. Louis Cardinals, they were replaced by right-handers A.J. Burnett and Charlie Morton.
Manager Clint Hurdle said John Buck's experience — he's a former All-Star who has played 10 seasons in the majors — gave him an edge over Sanchez, a rookie, to be Russell Martin's backup. Buck was traded to the Pirates in August from the New York Mets.
“We feel (Buck) has gotten enough time here to acclimate and ready himself for all the pitchers on our staff,” Hurdle said. “That being said, our second catcher probably isn't going to play much (in the playoffs).”
Other pitchers on the Pirates' roster are Gerrit Cole, Jeanmar Gomez, Jason Grilli, Francisco Liriano, Vin Mazzaro, Mark Melancon, Bryan Morris, Tony Watson and Justin Wilson.
The infielders are Pedro Alvarez, Clint Barmes, Josh Harrison, Garrett Jones, Jordy Mercer, Justin Morneau, Gaby Sanchez and Neil Walker. The outfielders are Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte, Jose Tabata and Marlon Byrd.
Snider batted .221 with four homers off the bench this season. However, Hurdle said Tabata will be the first choice as a pinch hitter and Harrison's multiposition versatility — especially at third base — made him more valuable than Snider.
Byrd flew south
Last offseason, Byrd played in the Mexican Winter League to improve his ability to hit breaking balls. It's unusual for a veteran to opt for Mexico, but Byrd had a special reason to go south.
“He wanted to improve an area of his game,” Hurdle said. “Where better to go than Mexico in a league full of pitchers that spin the ball and are not concerned about establishing the fastball? He has no ego. He has no fear.”
Byrd wanted to become more effective against curveballs for matchups against pitchers like Cardinals Game 1 starter Adam Wainwright, who has the second-best curveball in the NL, according to Fangraphs.com.
“It's not a pitch to hit. It's a pitch he wants swings on,” Byrd said of Wainwright's curveball. “He's unbelievable at locating, at throwing it short behind the plate. … You don't see spin. That what makes him so good. The breaking ball is so tight.”
Around the horn
Thursday's 9-1 setback was the Pirates' worst loss to open a playoff series since an 8-3 defeat against the Reds in the 1975 NL Championship Series. … Burnett was bounced after giving up seven runs in two-plus innings. It was the shortest postseason outing by a Pirates starter since John Smiley lasted two-thirds of an inning in Game 7 of the 1991 NLCS. … Alvarez's home run was the first by a Pirates third baseman in the playoffs since Bill Madlock went deep in the 1979 NLCS against the Reds. … Owner Bob Nutting and president Frank Coonelly will be in St. Louis for both games this week.