Pirates-Cardinals Preview

After a one-sided victory in Game 1 of their NL division series,
Carlos Beltran and the St. Louis Cardinals are hungry for more.

Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, meanwhile, is hoping to
see his club even things up.

The Cardinals try to continue their recent domination against
the visiting Pirates, who turn to rookie Gerrit Cole in Game 2 of
this best-of-five set Friday.

Beltran hit a three-run homer to spark a seven-run third inning
as St. Louis cruised to a 9-1 win Thursday. David Freese added two
hits and two RBIs for the Cardinals, who have outscored Pittsburgh
42-13 in winning the last five meetings.

“To be able to get out on a good first step and play well today
I think is big for our guys confidence-wise,” manager Mike Matheny
said. “Gives us an opportunity to just take some momentum, and
momentum is big right now when you talk about a five-game
series.”

While the Pirates snapped a 21-year postseason drought and beat
Cincinnati 6-2 two nights earlier in the wild-card game, they
failed to get much going Thursday. Andrew McCutchen had two of the
team’s four hits and Pedro Alvarez homered.

“Game 164 was rough. That’s one of the things we’ve been real
good at is we don’t overcook things,” said Hurdle, whose team
committed three errors. “We knew coming in we had to find a way to
win a game here. … We’re down one game in the series, and we’ll
move on.”

The Pirates will try to bounce back behind Cole (10-7, 3.22
ERA), who posted a 1.38 ERA in winning his final four
regular-season starts

“It’s going to be unbelievable. You’re in enemy territory. The
place is going to be loud. It’s going to be rocking,” said Cole,
who struck out 34 over 26 innings during his winning streak. “I
have no real experience to pull from, so just going to try to keep
it as simple as I can and just control what I can control.”

The 23-year-old right-hander went 4-2 with a 2.38 ERA in seven
road outings. Cole, though, faces a tough task in his first
appearance against St. Louis, which has won seven straight.

“I know that – facing (Matt) Carpenter, Beltran, (Yadier)
Molina, (Matt) Holliday, Freese, (Jon) Jay – they’re just great
hitters,” he said. “Whether you’ve seen them a bunch of times or
not, you know what they’re capable of doing. You know in a playoff
atmosphere anything can happen.”

Cole will need to be especially careful against Beltran, who is
batting .357 with 15 homers – tied with Babe Ruth for eighth
all-time – and 28 RBIs in 35 postseason games.

“He’s like our secret weapon when it comes to the postseason. He
steps up every time,” Carpenter said. “Some guys just have a knack
for a big game and he’s one of them.”

The Cardinals counter with Lance Lynn (15-10, 3.97), who also
thrived down the stretch. The right-hander followed a career-worst
four-start losing streak by going 2-0 with a 1.09 ERA in his final
four outings, striking out 30 over 24 2-3 innings.

“To be here at this time, you know what it’s all about,” he
said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s regular season, postseason,
whatever it may be. You’re just thinking about one thing, and that
is getting the job done for your team and giving them a chance to
win.”

While Lynn went 6-7 with a 5.15 ERA on the road, he was 9-3 with
a 2.82 ERA at home.

“Some pitchers feel more comfortable at certain places,” he
said. “But I have the luxury of throwing in front of the home crowd
here, and I’m excited about it.”

Lynn went 0-1 with a 4.91 ERA in two starts against San
Francisco in last season’s NLCS.

Lynn was 2-1 with a 5.60 ERA in five starts versus the Pirates
this season. He surrendered a career high-tying seven runs over
four innings in a 7-1 loss in Pittsburgh on Aug. 31.

Pirates outfielder Starling Marte is 6 for 13 with two doubles
and a triple in their matchups, while McCutchen is 4 for 26 with 10
strikeouts.