DURHAM, NC — Kris Johnson (pictured) has been a big leaguer for a little over a month and yet he could be part of Pittsburgh baseball history. The former Kansas City T-Bones starter will be in the Pirates’ bullpen tonight when Pittsburgh plays its first postseason game in 21 years, a do-or-die Wild Card contest at home against the Cincinnati Reds.
Johnson, a 28-year old left-hander from West Covina, CA, made his major league debut on August 18 against Arizona. His inauguration to the big stage came in extra innings and the southpaw tossed six strong frames in a marathon loss to the Diamondbacks. Though Johnson came up on the short end, he only allowed two runs on five hits and struck out five.
Since that performance, he has made two other relief appearances and one start for the Pirates. That is just two years removed from Johnson’s 2011 season in the American Association, in which he was 6-3 for Kansas City. Though he will not likely start for the Pirates, as he did for the T-Bones, Johnson will be waiting behind Pittsburgh starter Francisco Liriano, who will get the ball tonight at PNC Park. The lefty will be opposed by Reds right-hander Johnny Cueto in a game that will decide who will face the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Division Series. First pitch for the Wild Card game is scheduled for 8 p.m.