ST. LOUIS -- At PNC Park, the Pirates have depended on their 10th Man, those crowds clad in black that raised a racket and likely the hairs on the backs of some of the Cardinals' necks.
At Busch Stadium on Wednesday, the Bucs will rely on their Ninth Man, Gerrit Cole.
That's right. Cole became the ninth pitcher to start a game for the Pirates this season when he made his Major League debut on June 11. James McDonald, Jonathan Sanchez, Jeanmar Gomez and Phil Irwin all came before him.
Now, the rookie right-hander will take the ball in the club's biggest game in 21 years -- Game 5 of the National League Division Series against the Cards (8 p.m. ET on TBS).
Cole is ready for it.
"This is obviously an exciting time, a high-pressure situation," Cole said. "But this is what you prepare for, why you work out in the offseason, so you can be physically and mentally ready to go in big moments like this.
"We didn't announce until [Monday] night who was starting, so I just kept my head down and took care of my business. Now I know I have the ball, and I'm ready to go. Can't wait."
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.