Pirates roll to 6-2 defeat of Reds in NL Wild Card Game


The Pirates are heading to their first-ever NLDS.

Francisco Liriano allowed just one run on four hits in seven innings and Russell Martin homered twice as the Bucs cruised to a 6-2 victory over the visiting Reds in the National League Wild Card Game on Tuesday night at a sold-out and rowdy PNC Park.

Liriano had everything working — especially his changeup and slider — and used an aggressive approach to carve his way through the Reds’ lefty-heavy lineup. Joey Votto, Shin-Soo Choo and Jay Bruce — all left-handed hitters — went a combined 1-for-8 with four strikeouts against Pittsburgh’s ace southpaw. Liriano needed only 90 pitches, 64 of which went for strikes.

Martin was the big offensive star, but the Pirates got contributions from players up and down their starting lineup. Andrew McCutchen reached base in four of his five plate appearances and Neil Walker, Marlon Byrd and Pedro Alvarez all produced RBI. Jason Grilli closed it out with a perfect top-of-the-ninth.

The Pirates — who last reached the postseason in 1992, when the Division Series did not exist — will open their best-of-five showdown with the Cardinals in St. Louis on Thursday evening. The Cardinals will want to take both of those first two home games because the crowd at PNC Park can be a real difference-maker.

There were 40,487 fans there Tuesday — a park record — and countless others draped across the Roberto Clemente Bridge. The all-black outfits, the chants and the constant noise clearly rattled the Reds’ pitchers. It’s a perfect environment for postseason baseball as anyone tuning in on Tuesday night could see.

A’s sign Brett Anderson to a minor league deal

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Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the Oakland Athletics have agreed to a minor league contract with Brett Anderson.

Anderson, you’ll likely recall, began his major league career with the Athletics in 2009 and pitched for Oakland through 2013. He had some success in Oakland, being named the Opening Day starter one year, but injuries have mounted for the lefty over the years. The last season in which he was healthy all year was 2015 in which he made 31 starts for the Dodgers. Last year he posted a 6.34 ERA and a 38/21 K/BB ratio in 55.1 innings across 13 starts for the Cubs and Blue Jays.

Organizational depth at worst, a veteran arm to eat some innings if things go well and a potential midseason trade chip if he enjoys a resurgence of health and a little bit of luck.