PITTSBURGH (AP) — Francisco Liriano showed up at PNC Park on Tuesday afternoon in a suit with his suitcase packed for a trip St. Louis.
The message reverberated through the Pittsburgh Pirates clubhouse. After 21 years away from the playoffs, it was time for the best story in baseball to become something more than a novelty act.
Liriano tossed seven dominant innings and the Pirates roared past Cincinnati 6-2 in the NL wild-card game Tuesday night then headed to St. Louis for the NL division series beginning Thursday. A.J. Burnett will start for the Pirates in Game 1 against Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright.
“He had the expectancy to win,” Pittsburgh centerfielder Andrew McCutchen said. “When he showed up with his suit on, that got me hyped up.”
Well-traveled Rays in Cleveland to face Indians
CLEVELAND (AP) — Sporting sunglasses, a teal shirt and a backpack hanging from his shoulder, Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon looked like a tourist as he arrived late for his news conference.
In the past week, they’ve gone from Tampa to New York to Toronto to Texas to Cleveland, a journey covering 3,627 miles.
Getting a complete game from starter David Price, Tampa Bay beat Texas 5-2 in a tiebreaker on Monday night, earning the Rays a wild-card spot for the third time in four years and a chance to face the Indians, making their first appearance in October since 2007.
Some players just happy to be healthy for playoffs
A year ago at this time, all Victor Martinez could do was watch.
The Detroit Tigers rolled through the American League playoffs, but Martinez was still recovering from a knee injury that cost him the entire season. There would be no World Series for him — he could only hope for a healthier 2013 and another shot at postseason play.
“It’s a long road I came from,” Martinez said recently. “It was a tough year rehabbing, a whole year. I needed two surgeries. It was just tough. For three months I couldn’t put any weight on my leg. I spent literally a whole year from January to January rehabbing.”
That hard work is finally paying off for Martinez, who helped Detroit to its third straight AL Central title this year. Martinez is one of several standouts in this postseason who missed significant time either this year or in 2012, and these players are as thankful as anyone for the chance to be on the field when the games matter most.
Dodgers undecided on Ethier’s playoff role
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Andre Ethier may be limited to pinch-hitting duties in the National League division series because of a left ankle injury, leaving the Los Angeles Dodgers undecided on whether to include the outfielder on the playoff roster.
Ethier threw and hit but didn’t run during Tuesday’s workout at Dodger Stadium before the team departed for Atlanta, where they will face the Braves in Game 1 on Thursday.
He hasn’t played in the field since Sept. 13 because of an issue similar to shin splints. Ethier said he feels great when he wakes up but as he begins moving around he experiences pain a few inches above his ankle bone.