A.J. Burnett pitches Pirates within one game of home field advantage in the NL Wild Card playoff

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Pirates starter and potential upcoming retiree A.J. Burnett shut the Reds down over eight solid innings of work, allowing just one run on five hits and a walk while striking out six. The lone run came on a Todd Frazier solo home run in the fourth.

Homer Bailey wasn’t sharp, allowing four runs on four hits and four walks while striking out three in five innings. The Pirates scored twice in the third on Marlon Byrd’s two-run single to left and twice in the sixth on Pedro Alvarez’s two-run homer. The Cincinnati bullpen did their part to keep the game close, but Burnett was just too good, lowering his ERA on the season to 3.30.

Jason Grilli entered the game in the ninth and worked around two lead-off singles to record his 33rd save of the season.

The win moves the Pirates to 92-68, two games ahead of the Reds, meaning that a win either tomorrow or Sunday will give the Pirates home-field advantage in the NL Wild Card playoff game. As Travis Sawchik explained in a column posted last night, home-field advantage could prove to be an important asset to the Pirates specifically. Francisco Liriano projects to be the starter and he carries a 1.47 home ERA compared to a 4.32 road ERA.

CC Sabathia hopes to play one more year

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Back in May, Yankees starter CC Sabathia said he’d retire if the Yankees won the World Series. That still may be the plan, but he recently told MLB.com that he’s going to try to pitch in 2019, health willing:

“I’m start to start. I go out one start and feel like I can pitch five more years. I go out another start and I’m done. But if I can stay healthy — if my knee holds up — hopefully I’ll play one more.”

Sabathia is enjoying a nice late-career renaissance, having transformed himself from the dominant lefty he used to be to a crafty one over the past several seasons. Sabathia will turn 38 on Saturday, but he’s having another solid season. He has a 3.51 ERA and 1.27 WHIP over 18 starts.

Will a World Series decide whether he hangs ’em up? Will his knee? Guess we’ll know by November.