Monday, March 31, 2014

Bucs Take Opener 1-0

Francisco Liriano gave the Bucs what they needed - six shutout innings, and the bullpen did the rest until Neil Walker banged a 3-2 changeup off Carlos Villanueva into the right field seats beyond the Clemente Wall to give the Pirates a 1-0 Opening Day win in ten frames. They did it in front of a rockin' house - the attendance of 39,833 was the largest regular season in PNC history, and they celebrated The Kid's first walk-off homer (or for that matter, hit) raucously.

Frankie's line was six IP, four hits, 10 K with three walks on 104 pitches, and his whiff total tied AJ Burnett, Bob Veale and John Candelaria for strikeouts rung up on Opening Day. He was rattled twice, when the Cubs had runners on first and second with no outs in the fifth and sixth, but a 1-5-3 DP bunt thwarted one threat, and a K-popup-K the other. The double play became baseball's first challenge when Ron Renteria asked for a review of the out call; it was upheld and in fairly good time, taking maybe 90 seconds.

Tony Watson, Mark Melancon, Jason Grilli and Bryan Morris did the rest, with Morris getting the W. Mark the Shark had a runner on third who was thrown out at the dish in the eighth and Grilli stranded a Cub at second in the ninth. All in all, the Windy City nine left eight runners on base and went 0-for-11 with RISP.

Jeff Samardzija held up the Chicago end of the pitching battle, tossing seven shutout innings on five hits, two walks and three K.

Travis Ishikawa had a pair of hits and Starling Marte added a double. Pedro, who sat out the last week of camp to work on his swing, went 0-for-4 with two whiffs and a DP. Can't excuse the strikeouts, but the double play was a low liner up the middle, but hit right into a shift. We're curious to see how he performs at cleanup; his bat could make a big difference there if he gets comfortable in the spot.

Barry Bonds received a mixture of boos and cheers while presenting Cutch with his MVP award pre-game, but the noise quickly turned by the fans into McCutchen's familiar "MVP" chant. The remainder of the old Bucco stars - Dick Groat, Jimmy Leyland and Jack Wilson - were greeted with open arms.

The teams are off tomorrow, with a night game scheduled for Wednesday and get-away day on Thursday.

  • Elias Sports: Neil Walker is the second player in MLB history to hit a walk-off HR in a 1-0 game on Opening Day. 
  • Baseball Reference: In the last 100 years, there have been just eight extra-inning 1-0 games on Opening Day.
  • Ex-Bucs: Jason Bay is retiring, as is Jeff Clement.

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