PITTSBURGH -- The parade of distinguished, accomplished ballplayers from the Dominican Republic has long snaked across the Major League landscape, but never before has it passed in front of a reviewing stand like this.
When the Reds' Johnny Cueto
and the Pirates' Francisco Liriano
take the PNC Park mound for Tuesday night's National League Wild Card Game, starting at 8:07 p.m. ET on TBS, they will participate in Major League Baseball's first elimination game featuring both starters from that Caribbean country.
In fact, only two prior postseason games matched Dominican pitchers, both between Pedro Martinez and Bartolo Colon:
• In Game 1 of the 1999 American League Division Series, Colon's Indians edged Martinez's Red Sox, 3-2, although neither was involved in the decision.
• In Game 2 of the 2004 ALDS, Martinez's Red Sox defeated Colon's Angels, 8-3.
For Cueto and Liriano, who had both grown up emboldened by Martinez's success to follow their own big league dreams, it will be an occasion whose significance exceeds its impact on the rest of this postseason.
Cueto, from San Pedro de Macoris, the area better known as the crucible of Major League shortstops, and Liriano, from San Cristobal, want to inspire the youth of their country the same way Martinez and Colon had encouraged them.
"I want to tell my people in the Dominican Republic to follow this game," Cueto said. "There are two Dominicans on the mound. I want to give advice to all the youth in the Dominican that you have to work hard and to continue working hard to do things like this."
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.