Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Pirates going with rookie in Game 5

PITTSBURGH — Choosing a rookie over a veteran wasn't a hard decision for Pirates manager Clint Hurdle.

RHP Gerrit Cole, who made his postseason debut with a win over the Cardinals on Sunday, will start on short rest for Pittsburgh on Wednesday in a decisive Game 5 of the NL Division Series in St. Louis.

Cole was superb in Game 2, giving up one run and three hits in six innings during the Pirates' 7-1 victory, which evened the series. He was chosen to start over RHP A.J. Burnett, who was knocked around in the series opener.

Cole, who will face St. Louis ace RHP Adam Wainwright, was the logical choice to start the game that will send the winner to the NL Championship Series, Hurdle said.

"We have one game to win," he said. "As I've done, and I've challenged the guys to do, we need to do the best we can to win that next game. I believe that matchup is the best we can do to beat the Cardinals in Game 5."

Cole, the top overall pick in the 2011 draft, went 10-7 with a 3.22 ERA as a rookie and won his last four regular-season starts.

READY OR NOT: Seth Smith's time has come. For now. The A's OF/DH started Games 2 and 3 of the AL Division Series against the Tigers and had four hits, including a single to set up the winner Saturday and a two-run homer Monday in a 6-3 win as the A's took a 2-1 series lead.

Will Smith be in the lineup today when the A's have a chance to close it out? He didn't know. Smith is in the position of never quite knowing when he'll play.

Oakland's regular starting outfielders are Yoenis Cespedes, Coco Crisp and Josh Reddick. If Daric Barton plays first base, which he does frequently, Brandon Moss is the DH, and Smith is on the bench.

"I've had lots of practice at no playing, then playing," Smith said. "Either way, when you're in the game, you're expected to produce."

POSTSEASON PUIG: OF Yasiel Puig is finding out for the first time how exacting the playoffs can be. The Dodgers rookie was 6-for-13 with two RBIs and four runs scored going into Game 4 of the NL Division Series against Atlanta late Monday. "There is a lot more focus and more intensity on every little detail," Puig said through a translator. "I noticed that each pitcher is focusing more on each pitch that he throws. Everyone's trying to give their all in every single play."

MAKE IT QUICK: Jeff Fisher is not one of those NFL coaches who spends every waking moment in the bunker plotting strategy. The Rams coach had been watching the tense Cardinals-Pirates game in his office before dutifully fulfilling an obligation. His news conference began right before the top of the ninth inning. "Get through this fast and watch the bottom of the ninth?" Fisher joked. "It's on upstairs." The briefing lasted about 11 minutes, and Fisher might have had to sprint back upstairs to catch the finish. Reporters made it back to the work room just in time for the final out.

Playoff glance

Division Series

AMERICAN LEAGUE

A's 2, Tigers 1

Game 1: Tigers 3, A's 2

Game 2: A's 1, Tigers 0

Monday: A's 6, Tigers 3

Today: at Detroit, 5, TBS

Thursday: at Oakland, 9, TBS*

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Pirates 2, Cardinals 2

Game 1: Cardinals 9, Pirates 1

Game 2: Pirates 7, Cardinals 1

Game 3: Pirates 5, Cardinals 3

Monday: Cardinals 2, Pirates 1

Wednesday: at St. Louis, 5, TBS

Dodgers 2, Braves 1

Game 1: Dodgers 6, Braves 1

Game 2: Braves 4, Dodgers 3

Game 3: Dodgers 13, Braves 6

Monday: at Los Angeles, late

Wednesday: at Atlanta, 8:30, TBS*

* If necessary

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