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Jayson Stark Senior Writer, 

Clint Hurdle on why Sean Rodriguez starts at 1st for the Pirates for the first time since July 21: "We're putting our best pitcher on the mound. Want to put our best defensive team behind him."

This Is SportsCenter: Matt Harvey

When the Dark Knight eats ice cream, it's go big or go home.


Jayson Stark @jaysonst

On the #Cubs' side: Kyle Schwarber in RF. Played there twice - in last 2 games of year. Kris Bryant in LF. Only 2 starts there - 9/11 & 10/2

Doug Padilla ESPN Staff Writer 

Royals manager Ned Yost, on handling the expectations that come with being the AL's top regular-season team: "Pressure is what you make of it. Pressure is kind of like your little imaginary friend you had when you were 4-years old. If you think it's there, it's there. If you don't, you don't."

Gordon Edes ESPN Staff Writer 

The icemen cometh? Blue Jays show their support for that other sport in town in a full-page ad in the Toronto Star.

David Schoenfield SweetSpot blogger 

Tonight's lineups are certainly, umm, interesting. The Cubs are playing Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber in the outfield ... in order to get Tommy La Stella's bat at 3B. But La Stella has played just 81 innings at third in his pro career, Bryant has started just 10 games in the outfield and Schwarber has played just 14 innings in RF. The Pirates have benched Pedro Alvarez to get the better glove in Sean Rodriguez at 1B.

Jesse Rogers ESPN Staff Writer 

Cubs choosing offense over defense with Tommy La Stella at 3rd and Kris Bryant in LF. Very few starts for either at those positions. La Stella batting 5th. They believe he'll make good contact against Gerrit Cole.

Olney: Cubs, Pirates are best two teams

Buster Olney on the NL wild-card game: "It’s going to be a shame that one of these two team’s season is going to end tonight, but it adds to the drama of this game."


Gordon Edes ESPN Staff Writer 

David Price shows up at his pregame media conference with a cartoon of himself and his pup, Astro.

Doug Padilla ESPN Staff Writer 

The Kansas City Royals are on the field Wednesday for their final workout before the start of the ALDS on Thursday night. The Houston Astros are not expected to work out after winning the AL wild-card game in NY on Tuesday.

Jesse Rogers @ESPNChiCubs

People asking about the lineup: They like La Stella at 5 to "move the ball" as Maddon likes to say. For this particular matchup at least.

Buster Olney @Buster_ESPN

Pedro Alvarez is a big-time home run threat, but the Pirates know this: Jake Arrieta has allowed two homers in the last 113 days.

Cubs put Bryant in outfield

Rookie Kris Bryant started only four games in LF in the regular season -- compared to 136 at 3B -- but that's where he'll be playing for tonight's NL wild-card game. Tommy La Stella is taking his spot at 3B.


One small surprise in Pirates lineup

Sean Rodriguez will start at first base instead of Pedro Alvarez for tonight's NL wild-card game vs. the Cubs (8:08 p.m. ET). Rodriguez has not started a game since Sept. 15, while Alvarez started six of the Pirates' last eight games.

How to bet Cubs-Pirates

Runs will be at a premium tonight at PNC Park so keep that in mind when considering the odds. Best bets (Insider)

Getty Images, USA TODAY Sports

Marchand: 2 offseason priorities for N.Y.

Andrew Marchand said the Yankees can improve in a couple of ways: "No. 1, starting pitching. They're going to have to get better there. ... Also, they've got to improve against left-handed pitching."


Five questions for Rangers-Jays series

Tim Kurkjian leads with the most daunting task for Texas' pitching staff: "Can anyone slow down the Toronto offense?" Four more Q's


Marchand: Yankees had a good season

Despite losing the AL wild-card game, Andrew Marchand said N.Y.'s season was OK: "It's a pretty good season because this Yankees team was expected to be in the bottom half of the AL East. Instead, they nearly won the division."


Pitching could rule in NL wild-card game

Jake Arrieta was 3-1 with an 0.75 ERA in five starts against the Pirates this season. Gerrit Cole was 2-1 with a 2.13 ERA in four starts against the Cubs, striking out 32 and walking four. What's gonna give? Wild card stats to know

Getty Images, AP Photo

Royals believe in the pen without Holland

Last October, the Royals knew leads were safe in the hands of their lockdown bullpen. Can Kansas City's relievers slam the door again despite the loss of closer Greg Holland? Still gritty and scrappy