Oct. 7, 2015 — The Indianapolis Indians’ parent club, the Pittsburgh Pirates are set for a winner-take-all Wild Card playoff game Wednesday night at PNC Park.
The Pirates’ path to a World Series begins with the one-game showdown against National League Central division rival the Chicago Cubs, and from Pittsburgh’s ace starter Gerrit Cole to a multitude of key role-players, Wednesday’s contest features tie-ins across the board to the Triple-A Tribe back in Indianapolis.
Here are a few headlines to follow during the Wild Card Playoff, which begins at 8:00 p.m. on TBS:
1. Ace of Club
- Wild Card Scoop: The current Pirates ace and former Indians rotation leader, Gerrit Cole, enters the Wild Card ranked second in the National League with 19 wins and fifth with a 2.60 ERA. Among the few NL starters to finish with better regular-season numbers? Cole’s counterpart Wednesday, Jake Arrieta, who went 22-6 with a 1.77 ERA.
- Tribe Tie-In: Prior to his highly-anticipated promotion to the big leagues in 2013, Cole spent the first half of the campaign atop the Indians’ rotation in the International League. Cole has since capped his most recent rehab stint for the Tribe with a 13-inning scoreless streak and a 9-4 overall record with a 2.80 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 17 career Triple-A starts.
2. Run, Keon, Run!
- Wild Card Scoop: Keon Broxton’s standout 2015 season featured appearances at the top three levels of Pittsburgh’s system and culminated in his first taste of MLB action on Sept. 21 at Colorado. The former star wide receiver from Lakeland, Florida is typically the first pinch runner the Pirates call upon in close games, and Broxton has capitalized with three runs scored and a stolen base in six such appearances.
- Tribe Tie-In: Just a few months after his first career Triple-A promotion, Broxton concluded an impressive stint with the Indians with the team’s 2015 Rookie of the Year award. The speedster finished second in the IL with 28 stolen bases and fourth with 51 runs scored in 88 games after making his Triple-A debut on May 29.
3. Tribe Outfield Trio
- Wild Card Scoop: A star-studded outfield helped power the Pirates to their third straight postseason appearance, a feat previously accomplished just twice in team history. The trio, from left to right, features Starling Marte, who hit .287 and was fifth in the NL with 30 stolen bases, Andrew McCutchen, who hit .292 and was fourth in the league with a .402 on-base percentage, and Gregory Polanco, who hit .256 and finished 9th in the NL with 20 runs scored during the final month of the season.
- Tribe Tie-In: Each of the three outfielders – Marte, McCutchen and Polanco – have roots with the Indianapolis Indians.
- Marte appeared in 99 games with the Tribe in his lone Triple-A season in 2012, wrapping up an impressive performance with a .286 batting average and the current Victory Field Era (1996) single-season record of 13 triples.
- McCutchen dominated through three consecutive seasons in Indianapolis’ outfield from 2007-09, including capturing MVP honors of the 2008 Triple-A All-Star game with a two-hit, two-RBI effort at the showcase.
- Polanco was named the Indians’ team MVP in 2014 after leading the club to a 41-28 record during his 69 Triple-A starts.
4. Men in the ‘Pen
- Wild Card Scoop: The Buccos’ stout bullpen recorded 54 saves and 31 wins while leading all NL teams with a 2.67 ERA during the 2015 regular season. A handful of relievers contributed to the lights-out effort, and among those helping set the stage for All-Star closer Mark Melancon, were several key role players in former Tribers Jared Hughes, Bobby LaFromboise, Tony Watson and Vance Worley.
- Tribe Tie-In: Two of those four relievers pitched on the Indians’ staff during the 2015 season, with LaFromboise ranking third in the IL with 54 appearances and Vance Worley authoring six starts out of the rotation. In addition, the right-hander Hughes suited up with the Indians for parts of the 2011, 2012 and 2014 seasons, while Pittsburgh’s premier setup man, Watson, also joined Hughes in Indianapolis for the majority of the 2011 campaign.
5. Hometown Hero
- Wild Card Scoop: Former Indiana Mr. Football and Mr. Baseball, Clayton Richard, began the season in the Pirates organization before being acquired by and finishing the campaign with Pittsburgh’s Wild Card rival, the Chicago Cubs. Richard enters Wednesday’s playoff game with a 4-2 record and 3.83 ERA over 23 appearances (three starts) for the Cubs in 2015.
- Tribe Tie-In: The McCutcheon High standout pitched professionally in his hometown for the first time in his career when the Indians hosted the Pawtucket Red Sox on May 18. Richard would go on to conclude his Tribe stint unbeaten in five total home starts, combining to go 2-0 with a 1.64 ERA when pitching in downtown Indianapolis.