(BaseballStL) -- Minutes after his team failed to finish the Cardinals season in Game 4, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle announced who the team would start in the decisive Game 5 back in St. Louis.
“Gerrit Cole is going to start,” Hurdle said.
The decision to pass Game 1 starter A.J. Burnett in favor of the rookie Cole was a choice that boiled down to the matchup.
“It's a very hard decision,” Hurdle said. “It's a difficult decision because (Burnett) has meant so much. We've asked so much of him while he's been here. It has been a very challenging park for him. If this was any other venue, he would have gotten the ball. But for me in this venue this game, Cole is going to be our guy.”
Burnett finished the season against the Cardinals with a 3-1 record and a 3.67 earned-run average, but he has posted an earned-run average of 15.50 in his last five starts at Busch Stadium. To be more specific about his terrible string of outings in the last two seasons at ‘Baseball Heaven,’ Burnett has allowed 31 earned runs, 37 hits, 10 walks, three home runs in 18 innings pitched.
“We have one game to win,” Hurdle 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 winning pitcher in Game 2, held the Cardinals to one run and three baserunners over six innings pitched in a 7-1 victory Friday at Busch Stadium. He will be opposed by Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright in Wednesday's Game 5.
"He's a young guy who throws 100 (miles per hour) any time he can, any time he wants. He's got a good slider too. Last time, we faced him (in Game 2) it was the first time we faced him. And normally when you face a pitcher like that for the first time it's kind of difficult to know what they're trying to do to you,"added Cardinals outfielder Carlos Beltran. "Facing him a second time we have a little bit more of an idea of what we're going to do against him."
As for what’s in store for Burnett, a 15-year veteran, Hurdle hasn’t determined if he will use him out of the bullpen for Game 5.
“A.J. wants the ball every day he's scheduled to pitch,” Hurdle said. “That's one of the things that has gotten him to this point in his career and having success that he has had. Sometimes we don't agree on things. We have to find a way to get this together to give our team the best opportunity to win in all aspects.”
Scott Bierman covers the Cardinals, Rams and Blues for KMOV.com and its associated mobile apps (BaseballStL, FootballStL and HockeyStL). You can follow him on Twitter @Scott_Bierman for St. Louis sports news and notes.