The Pittsburgh Pirates waited 21 years for a post-season appearance, and they don't want it to end now.
With the series of the National League Divisional Series tied at 2-2, it all now boils down to the crucial Game 5 in St. Louis as the Cardinals look to take advantage of their superior experience and the fact that they have an impressive 7-1 record in the last three years, when facing postseason elimination.
St. Louis Cardinals will look to take advantage of playing at home in the deciding Game 5 of the NLDS against the Pittsburgh Pirates
"We saw it in Pittsburgh, and I anticipate seeing it tomorrow," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said after most of his players was evident at an optional workout, talking about routine and the importance behind it during such situations. "They show up like it's another -- it's another great day."
The Pirates and Cardinals know each other really well from the regular season and postseason, with Game 5 set to be their 24th meeting - Pittsburgh holds a slight 12-11 edge.
"You've got to meet the demands of the game," manager Clint Hurdle was quoted as saying by Associated Press. "I don't think I've been in a game where somebody just didn't show up."
Pirates' hopes will rest on by rookie starter Gerrit Cole, who is set for a big-time game like no other. "This is obviously an exciting time, a high-pressure situation, and you know, this is what you prepare for all year," Cole said. "Yeah, it's extremely exciting, and I can't wait."
Pitching for the other side will be Adam Wainwright, who allowed six runs in just under three innings against the Washington Nationals in Game 5 of the division series last year. He did bounce back though with a solid performance in the NL championship series Game 4, and Wainwright is expecting more of the same from that particular game.
"This year I have all the confidence in the world in my stuff," Wainwright said. "It's a completely different situation.
"Going out there and getting a guy out one time like it's going to be the last time you ever face him, that's the mentality I took into starting. "I have to give it everything I've got every pitch until they take the ball from me."
Hurdle said he will not be making any changes to his lineup despite the struggles of leadoff man Starling Marte and Neil Walker, with the form of Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez more than making up for it.
"These men are both capable and they have done it in the past," Hurdle said. "We have been pitched effectively in a couple different spots. I have every confidence that tomorrow (Wednesday) night will be the night that they get going."
Where to watch
The game is scheduled for a 5.30 a.m. (IST) start with live telecast on ESPN.
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