ST. LOUIS -- So the Pirates got blown out in the opening game of a postseason series. Nothing new there. Is that a reference to last month, when the Cardinals did a similar number on them here in a three-game series?
No, it's a reference to the middle of the last century, to the 1960 World Series. You either remember it or have read and heard about it ad infinitum: The Yankees routed the Bucs by scores of 16-3, 10-0 and 12-0 ... but the Pirates went home as winners on Bill Mazeroski's swing.
The comparison has cropped up often during the regular-season series between the National League Central rival Bucs and Cards, and manager Clint Hurdle personally heard a revival of it on his way to Busch Stadium on Friday morning.
"I did have a number of people from Bucs Nation reach out and reassure me that the three games that the 1960 Pirates lost [in the World Series] were by a combined score of 38-3," Hurdle said with a subtle wink. "Although we won four games in the Series. So the focus needs to be on the wins, not the runs. So I thought that was very entertaining and encouraging from our fan base."
The pattern was set long before the Cardinals' 9-1 romp in Thursday's Game 1 of the NL Division Series. While the Bucs claimed a 10-9 edge in regular-season play between the teams, St. Louis' victories included laughers by the scores of 10-6, 9-1, 13-0, 9-2 and 12-8. Those outcomes represented one-third of all the games in which Pittsburgh pitching allowed nine runs or more.
Bucs try to boost offense, start Mercer at short
ST. LOUIS -- Between the two teams' lineups for Game 2 of the National League Division Series, there was only one change: The Pirates switched to Jordy Mercer at shortstop over Clint Barmes.
Mercer got his first start of the young postseason as manager Clint Hurdle sought to inject a little more offense into his lineup following Thursday's four-hit performance in the 9-1 loss in the series opener.
Mercer has had one run-in with St. Louis right-hander Lance Lynn, and the small sample size of his 2-for-3 with a two-run double got him the nod over Barmes, who himself has done well against Lynn (6-for-23, with two doubles, a homer and five RBIs).
"Yeah, Jordy has some at-bats against Lynn, and we tried to get maybe another little offensive bat in the lineup," Hurdle said. "So that's the reason for it."
Maybe that won't be the only spike in the Bucs' batting order: Gerrit Cole, the day's starting pitcher, took a .206 average with five RBIs into the game.
First number, last word
32: Daytime home runs the last two seasons by Pedro Alvarez, the most in the National League -- and not counting his Thursday clout in the fifth inning for the Pirates' lone run in their loss in Game 1 of the NL Division Series in a game that started at 4 p.m. CT.
"I think the tuneup we got in Pittsburgh ... all these days are running together ... what day was that? Tuesday. On Tuesday, I certainly got an eye-opener what a playoff game is like." -- Neil Walker, trying to find his bearings amid the whirlwind postseason schedule
• Andrew McCutchen, among the Major League leaders with 60 multihit games during the regular season, has begun his postseason with a pair of two-hit games.
• In Game 2 of the NLDS, the Pirates tried to avoid losing a second consecutive road game for the first time since Sept. 7-8. Those contests took place in St. Louis, of course.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.