Sunday, April 3, 2016

Opening Day: FranKie Leads Bucs to 4-1 Win

Francisco Liriano went six innings, using 94 pitches while giving up no runs, three hits, five walks, 10 whiffs, and left the bases loaded twice. So Frankie is off to his usual drama-filled but usually effective ways. The Bucs scored in the second when a Gregory Polanco double and Jordy walk were converted into runs following Frankie and John Jaso singles. It was all Liriano needed as the Bucs coasted to a 4-1 victory.

Frankie had it going today (photo Gregory Bull/AP)

In the sixth, Fran tripled to The Notch to lead off (thank you, Matt Holliday) and scored on Josh's sac fly to make it 3-0. That brought on Tony Watson in the seventh to match up with Card lefties Matt Carpenter and Matt Adams. Good move; 11 pitches later, the frame was over. Neftali Feliz matched him in the eighth.

The Bucs added on the hard way. Jordy blew a suicide squeeze try, hanging up Fran, then redeemed himself by doubling home El Coffee. Even with no save opp, Mark the Shark came on to finish up. A single and HBP put him in hot water. He almost escaped when he went up 0-2 with two outs against Carpenter, who took a couple of nasty hooks for balls, fouled off a couple and lined a 3-2 cutter into right to bring home the Cards' lone tally before Melancon closed it out.

Click here for today's box score.

The teams are off tomorrow, with games scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday nights.

A couple of game observations:
1) The Pirate pressure game was meh in Florida and still was today - Polanco was thrown out at second on an attempted tag up, Jordy couldn't put down a suicide squeeze, and Fran was caught stealing on the Bucs only attempt. Kinda surprisingly, Josh was the best small-baller today, with a sac fly and successful bunt that both led to runs.
2) Clint finally matched up Watson v the lefties. Maybe now that he has a full complement of southpaws, we'll see a few more same side outings.
3) S-Rod came in as a late-inning defensive sub at first, so while Jaso/Morse D is better than Pedro's was, it apparently still has a ways to go. Seems kinda wasteful to tie up a spot for that... But overall, the infield defense was stout, especially David Freese, despite being rusty after a late camp start.

  • Pirate pitchers have K'ed 10 batters five times on Opening Day. Frankie has two (he also did it in 2014 v Cubs). The others are AJ Burnett (2013 - Cubs), John Candelaria (1983 - Cards) and Bob Veale (1965 - Giants, 10 IP).
  • Fangraph's August Fagerstrom notes "Francisco Liriano is the first pitcher in the history of baseball to have the 6 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 5 BB, 10 K line." Who knew it was a historic outing?
  • Freese, Fran and El Coffee each had a pair of hits; Starling Marte hit the ball hard three times but couldn't find grass.
  • Opening Day attendance at PNC Park was 39,500.

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