Pittsburgh Sports: Week in Review

Story posted September 30, 2013 in Sports, CommRadio by Mike Wargon

The last time the Pirates made the playoffs, a gallon of gas cost only $1.05. They’ve tallied 21 straight losing seasons, but finally Pittsburgh will experience baseball in October. Not only did they Pirates make the postseason, but after beating the Reds to close the season, they will have home-field advantage in the one game wild card round on Tuesday, October 2. Going back to the regular season, it will be the fourth straight game these teams will play.

Manager Clint Hurdle will give the ball to starter Francisco Liriano whose ERA at home this year is a mere 1.47. However, Liriano struggled against the Reds this year. The Reds have accounted for three of his eight losses and four of the nine home runs Liriano’s allowed this season.

Liriano will face a very good Reds lineup that features all-star talent and the dangerous Joey Votto. Liriano will need to keep his regular season success going if the Pirates want to advance to the divisional round to face the St Louis Cardinals. Liriano, has pitched poorly in limited postseason play. He has pitched 6.2 innings and given up six runs. Both of his appearances came against good Yankees teams, but the Pirates cannot afford to get into a hole early against a good Reds team.

The Pirates will need to get run support against Reds starting pitcher Johnny Cueto who has shut down the Pirates in two starts this season. Cueto will be starting because regular ace Mat Latos has a bone chip in his elbow, which will prevent him from pitching.

Leading the offensive charge will be NL MVP hopeful Andrew McCutchen. McCutchen is batting .317 with 21 homeruns and 84 RBIs in 2013.  The centerfielder has also played very well defensively making numerous plays to help his pitching staff.  The Pirates will need to manufacture runs by getting men on base and moving them over. They are not a team that will beat you with the long ball, so they will need to play smart to score runs.

In the past decade, while the Pirates have been bad, the Steelers have been good. Now the roles are reversed. The Steelers have started the season 0-3 and look completely out of sorts. Their normally stout defense is having trouble stopping a nosebleed. Ben Roethlisberger is also struggling to start the season.

Without the threat of a running game teams are bale to get much more pressure on Roethlisberger and as a result force more turnovers.  The emergence of rookie running back Le’Veon Bell could rejuvenate this team. Bell had a great collegiate career at Michigan State amassing 1.793 yards and 12 touchdowns in his senior season.  He was injured early in the preseason and was forced to miss the opening games of the regular season. Bell is back now and looking to make up lost time. In his first game back from injury he was able to score a touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings.

As for hockey the Penguins will begin their 2013 season on Thursday, October 3, against the New Jersey Devils. In the regular season last year Pittsburgh finished with second most points in the NHL only behind the Chicago Blackhawks.  With Sidney Crosby leading the way, they can make another run at Lord Stanley’s Cup---if Marc-Andre Fleury can get settled in between the pipes.

Mike Wargon is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email mjwargon@gmail.com.