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On Deck: NL Wild Card

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    NEWSLETTERS

    On Deck will be here all season to provide you with everything you need to know (and a few things you don't) about every postseason series during the 2014 season.

    The Teams: The Giants have made a habit in recent years of winning the World Series, then missing the playoffs, then winning the World Series again and missing the playoffs. We're back to that even-numbered year, which could mean trouble for the rest of baseball. They'll have to win this game before they can think about the bigger picture.

    The Pirates are back in the postseason behind the play of one of the game's biggest stars, Andrew McCutchen and without the benefit of a true ace pitcher.

    Past 2014 Meetings: The Pirates hold a 4-2 series lead on the Giants this year, which is why Pittsburgh will host the game in a battle of the two teams with arguably the most beautiful stadiums in all of baseball.

    Pitching Matchup: Madison Bumgarner (18-10, 2.98 ERA) vs. Edinson Volquez (13-7, 3.04).

    What's Hot: Andrew McCutchen is making his case for NL MVP honors once again, as he's hitting .421 with a team-high seven RBIs over the past week to get the Pirates to this point. Travis Snider is hitting near .400 in that same span with two homers, and Starling Marte is batting .346 with three RBIs and four stolen bases. Volquez threw seven shutout innings and fanned 10 in his last outing.

    Brandon Belt is hitting .400 over the last five games with a homer, while the 2012 World Series hero Pablo Sandoval is batting .333 with four RBIs. The Giants bullpen has been very good as of late, and now includes swing man Tim Lincecum, who played a huge role in the Giants' 2012 World Series run in the same role.

    What's Not: Catcher Russell Martin is batting just .083 with just one hit in his last four games.

    Bumgarner gave up four runs on six hits in just more than seven innings his last time out. Hunter Pence is in a bad way over his past six games, batting just .053 with only one hit. In that time, he has seven strikeouts and just one walk.