What does slogging through a brutal 162-game schedule that spans the entirety of an American summer (and then some) earn you in MLB‘s expanded-playoff era?

If you’re a wild-card team, it earns you the right to play at least one more game. The San Francisco Giants will take on the Pittsburgh Pirates in the National League Wild Card Game to decide which team moves on to the National League Division Series against the Washington Nationals.

This may not be the fairest way to determine who takes another step toward a World Series crown, but it just might be the most exciting. Consider it a bonus for all the hard work as a fan of watching three-run, four-hour ballgames in the middle of an August heatwave. 

Here is all the relevant media information one needs to catch the NL Wild Card Game, followed by a quick preview.


2014 NL Wild Card Game Info: San Francisco Giants vs. Pittsburgh Pirates

Date: October 1

Location: PNC Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Time (ET): 8 p.m.


Live Stream: WatchESPN



The Pirates have been in true swashbuckling form as of late, winning 19 of their last 25 games and coming within two games of upending the St. Louis Cardinals and capturing the NL Central crown. They are 4-2 against the Giants this year, and although the slate is wiped clean come playoff time, the Pirates carry a mental, home-field—and perhaps a starting pitching—edge.

Per Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Bucs will send out Edinson Volquez, one of the hottest pitchers in baseball, to the mound Wednesday night. He’s 5-0 since the start of August and posted a 1.08 ERA with a .990 WHIP in the month of September.

“If he does indeed get the ball on Wednesday it’s well-deserved and I think everybody in this room has the utmost confidence that he’s the right guy to get the ball,” said teammate Gerrit Cole, via Brink. Volquez struggled in 2013 with the San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers, but he’s shown no signs of relapsing into bad habits.

The Giants got a nice end-of-the-season jolt from star catcher Buster Posey, who went 1-for-2 with a two-run homer in the team’s final regular-season game. He was the main source of offense for the team, crushing 22 home runs and knocking in 89 RBI.

“I was, to be honest, a little concerned with if he was healthy,” Bochy said, via Alex Pavlovic of the San Jose Mercury News. “But he showed it with that swing.”

Supplementing Posey will be players like outfielder Hunter Pence, who was second to Posey on the team with 20 home runs and 74 RBI, and Mike Morse, who posted an .811 OPS (on-base plus slugging) and notched 32 doubles.

A healthy Posey will certainly solidify the Giants lineup, but as Pavlovic notes, they may need to dip into their depth if they want to make this a long postseason:

With Angel Pagan and Michael Morse hurt, the Giants will need a deep attack Wednesday and beyond, and they got contributions up and down the roster. Brandon Belt reached base twice and scored a run, continuing his stellar play over the past week. Rookies Joe Panik, Andrew Susac and Matt Duffy are all likely to see postseason action, and they combined for four hits and two RBIs.

The new faces in the lineup and the lack of reams of data on their preferences may affect the Pirates, who have utilized shifts nearly 300 more times this season than the other NL playoff teams, according to ESPN Insider (subscription required) Scott Spratt.

It will be interesting to see if the team can pick its spots behind Volquez and save a run or two in this contest, but with one game deciding its playoff fate, it could opt for a more conservative and balanced approach.

Giants ace Madison Bumgarner, who finished the season with an 18-10 record and 2.98 ERA, will do his best to limit the Bucs in this contest, per a report from ESPN.com. 

The Pirates are in remarkable shape for this late in the season and the health of their squad, especially their star trio in the outfield, may prove to be the difference in this contest. Josh Harrison, Starling Marte and Andrew McCutchen have caused pitchers plenty of fits on the year with their all-around hitting acumen.

Bumgarner is a fine pitcher and will be a worthy test for the Bucs, but things seem to be going in the Pirates direction. Then again, it’s just one game, and anything can happen.


All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

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