AFTER 159 games, the Pittsburgh Pirates' season boiled down to the final three contests.
The revitalized Buccos found themselves in a dead-heat with rival Cincinnati in the National League Central race, with the division title nearly salted away by St. Louis.
The Pirates and Redlegs were going head-on-head for the right to host the one-game National League Wild Card game. Whatever Ohio River team won two games this weekend was going to gain home-stadium advantage.
Many expected a white-knuckler of a series, with both teams riveted to every pitch.
Such was not the case.
The Pirates enter today's season-finale on cruise control. The Buccos took care of business in quick and impressive fashion.
Pittsburgh followed up Friday night's crucial victory with a power surge Saturday, slamming six home runs en route to a convincing 8-3 triumph.
Consequently, PNC Park will be electric Tuesday as the Reds must navigate upriver for the one-game elimination contest. It is another feather in the Pirates' cap this brilliant season.
Playoff baseball is something that has been foreign to Pittsburgh for 21 years. The Buccos have now captivated the Steel City.
In a one-game playoff scenario anything can happen. We do, however, like the Black & Gold's chances as they are 50-31 at PNC this season, third best in the National League.
The Pirates' success is a result of many factors. It starts at the top with deft ownership, a savvy front office, skillful coaching and talented players.
The beauty of these Bucs is that they are built for the long haul. Many of their key players are still young and under contracts for years to come.
The 2013 season is one to remember for the Pirates Nation. It may also be just the first of many glorious campaigns at PNC.