Bucs still have sights set on division title

Bucs still have sights set on division title

CINCINNATI -- For a team that overnight had just secured home-field advantage for the National League Wild Card Game, the Pirates certainly expressed an odd sentiment Saturday morning.

Following Sunday's regular-season finale here, they hoped their next game would not be in Pittsburgh. There is an explanation, of course; by erasing or overcoming the Cardinals' remaining one-game lead in the division race, the Bucs would either head to St. Louis for a tiebreaker game Monday, or to Los Angeles to open the NL Division Series on Friday.

Beyond those uncertainties, Friday night's win, coupled with the Giants' later loss to the Padres, did check off the first item on manager Clint Hurdle's postseason checklist: A home playoff game.

"I'm real ... happy, for our fanbase," Hurdle said, struggling briefly to find the right word. "To go 21 years without playoff baseball, and at least provide them that opportunity. The only way to reverse a legacy of going 21 years without is by now having back-to-back years of home playoff baseball. For me, it's rewarding."

For you Blackout-planning fans, the first postseason game at PNC Park will be either Wednesday against the Giants in the Wild Card Game, or Oct. 6 against the Dodgers in Game 3 of the NLDS (first-pitch times yet to be determined). We've got that much narrowed down.

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.