CLEVELAND -- Just two hours southeast of Cleveland, playoff-starved Pirates fans found a way to make an impact in Pittsburgh's 6-2 win over the Reds in Tuesday's National League Wild Card Game.
The record crowd of 40,487 at PNC Park began chanting, "Cueto, Cueto," at Cincinnati right-hander Johnny Cueto in the second inning while he was facing catcher Russell Martin. Cueto dropped the ball while on the mound, much to the crowd's amusement, and the very next pitch was deposited into the seats for a solo blast by Martin.
Rays manager Joe Maddon said he's aware that Indians fans -- who haven't seen their club in the postseason since 2007 -- could pull a similar stunt against Rays starting pitcher Alex Cobb. But Maddon said he declined to bring that up with the 25-year-old right-hander before Wednesday's American League Wild Card Game at Progressive Field.
"I'm really big on not putting thoughts in a guy's head," Maddon said. "Something like that I would refrain from doing, because I don't really see the positive impact that would have with me making him aware of something that may not occur. I want to believe that if it does occur, I'd like to see a lot of smiles."
Maddon said his team has the advantage of playing in big-game atmospheres at places such as Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park during the regular season, so his team is prepared for raucous crowds come the postseason.
"When you get your players to play in those venues on a consistent basis, and it's like a playoff atmosphere in New York and Boston, I don't care what date it is," Maddon said. "So your guys are able to deal with it, and you get stronger and become immune to it in some ways."
Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.