Giants ready for wild environs in Pittsburgh

Bumgarner to face Volquez as club seeks better fortune vs. '13 WC winners

Giants ready for wild environs in Pittsburgh

SAN FRANCISCO -- Buster Posey watched last season's Wild Card Games from his couch, and he was impressed by the intense atmospheres created by the do-or-die contests. He'll experience it for himself on Wednesday at PNC Park in Pittsburgh at 5:07 p.m. PT on ESPN.

"I'm looking forward to it; it's going to be probably one of the better atmospheres we get to play in," Posey said of the Giants' National League Wild Card Game matchup with the Pirates.

Win-or-go-home games are nothing new for the Giants, who won a record-tying six elimination games en route to a World Series title in 2012. Couple that with the team's 2010 World Series championship, and there is no shortage of a playoff presence inside the Giants' clubhouse.

  Date   Result Highlights
  Oct. 1   SF 8, PIT 0 video
"The guys that have been through it know that it'll come down to pitching well and good defense," Posey said. "I think we have the offense that can get hot and sustain that hotness for a few weeks."

Manager Bruce Bochy isn't counting the Giants' past as an advantage, though, since the Pirates hosted and won last season's NL Wild Card Game.

The Pirates beat the Giants in four of their six meetings in 2014, winning two of three one-run games in Pittsburgh from May 5-7 and capturing two of three at AT&T Park in San Francisco from July 28-30. The game marks the teams' first postseason meeting since 1971, when the Pirates defeated the Giants, 3-1, in the NL Championship Series en route to winning the World Series.

Who the Giants would send to the mound Wednesday was never in doubt: Madison Bumgarner, the ace lefty with the 18-10 record and 2.98 ERA this season.

If history is any indicator, then the fact that Wednesday's game will be on the road for the Giants bodes even better, since Bumgarner is 11-4 with a 2.22 ERA away from AT&T Park. Regardless of where the game is played, the confidence level in the Giants' clubhouse rises on days Bumgarner pitches.

"When the guy takes the ball, there's that feeling that we're going to win," right-hander Ryan Vogelsong said, sharing the sentiment a handful of teammates have also recently vocalized. "As a pitcher, that's one of the best feelings you can have. I've had it here in the past where you can tell when you walk in the room that the guys are excited that you're on the mound that day.

"For me, the thing that stands out the most is the energy the team has when he takes the mound."

Bumgarner was rocked to the tune of five earned runs on six hits in just four innings July 28 in his lone start against the Pirates this season. His only career start at PNC Park came in 2011, and he struck out seven while allowing one run on five hits in six innings.

Who the Giants would face was much more of an uncertainty in the last few days. The Pirates unsuccessfully went all in this weekend in their attempt to win the NL Central, throwing top starters Francisco Liriano on Saturday and Gerrit Cole on Sunday. So, Edinson Volquez will start for Pittsburgh.

Volquez hasn't allowed an earned run in three of his last five starts, and he has a 1.10 ERA while holding opponents to a .170 batting average in his last six starts.

Volquez didn't start against the Giants this season, and he is 2-2 with a 5.72 ERA in 11 career starts against San Francisco. He was 0-1 with a 6.08 ERA in five starts against the Giants last season.

"He's throwing the ball very well," said Bochy, who got a head start in scouting Volquez the last couple of days. "He's been really locked in, how he's pitching."

Volquez's hot streak has helped catapult the Pirates in their regular season-ending tear, as they won 17 of their last 23 to secure home field for Wednesday's game. Combine that streak with Volquez's personal triumphs and the Pirates' 51-30 mark inside PNC Park, and the Giants' offense that has scored just 44 runs in its last 15 games has its work cut out.

"They really caught fire this month and almost won their division, so I expect to see a great ballgame," Bochy said. "We'll do all we can to get back here."

Projected Giants starting lineup, past results against Volquez
Gregor Blanco: 5-for-19, RBI
Joe Panik: N/A
Posey: 5-for-12, RBI, two doubles
Pablo Sandoval: 6-for-13, three RBIs, three doubles
Hunter Pence: 7-for-36, three homers, nine RBIs
Brandon Belt: 8-for-18, one homer, five RBIs
Brandon Crawford: 3-for-20
Travis Ishikawa: 1-for-4, RBI

Projected Pirates starting lineup, past results against Bumgarner
Josh Harrison: 4-for-5, one homer, RBI
Gregory Polanco: 0-for-1, RBI
Andrew McCutchen: 2-for-10
Neil Walker: 3-for-11, RBI
Russell Martin: 3-for-7, RBI
Starling Marte: N/A
Gaby Sanchez: 3-for-9, two RBIs
Jordy Mercer: 3-for-7

Worth noting
• Giants rookie reliever Hunter Strickland came up with the Pirates. They designated him for assignment in April 2013 to clear a roster spot for former Giant Jonathan Sanchez.

Since getting the September callup, Strickland has struck out nine and allowed just five hits in seven shutout innings.

• Bochy said Sunday that Michael Morse (strained left oblique) has taken light swings. If Morse is included on the 25-man roster for Wednesday, it will purely be in a pinch-hitting role.

Ryan Hood is an associate reporter for Follow him on Twitter @ryanhood19. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.