In the fourth, Freeser and Fran smoked balls but they couldn't get them past Jackie Bradley Jr., who made a particularly sweet grab on Cervelli's drive to Fenway's CF Notch. It looked like the fifth would go by the books quietly, too.
|Cole Train blew it past the Bosox early on (image Root Sports)|
Pittsburgh sat down 1-2-3 and the Red Sox had two outs, the bases empty and Cole Train sitting at an economical 57 tosses. Then out went the lights. Jackie Bradley ripped a bad-hop triple and Kung Fu Panda reached on an infield hit not very well stroked (it was a check swing) so much as well placed with Jordy shifted and it plated Bradley. Then came the killer; Sandy Leon looked at a shift and laid down a bunt to beat it. That led to Gerrit giving the glare to the dugout - maybe a shift on the nine hitter is a bit too cute - and was followed by a Dusty Pedroia shot up the middle, then a blast by Andrew Benintendi that carried over the 380 mark in right center to make it 5-0.
The sixth went quietly with Juan Nicasio doing the honors for Pittsburgh. In the seventh, the Bucs made it a game. Freeser singled, Fran doubled and an out later, J-Hay's knock made it 3-1 and chased Porcello in favor of Matt Barnes. Jordy's single plated another and a walk to Fraze juiced the sacks. Then came another big moment; Starling ripped a ball toward the gap, but Benintendi ran it down to turn extra bases into a sac fly and make it 5-3.
|J-Hay turned this pitch into 2017's first Bucco RBI (image MLB.com)|
Felipe Rivero and Daniel Hudson carried it into the ninth for the Pirates; Robby Scott hung up a zero for Boston in between them. The Buccos stayed alive in the final frame against Andrew Miller with a lead-off double by Josh Bell and a two-out HBP collected by Fraze. But he got Starling to pop out, and the first game was in the books.
A couple of things that had bothered us during the spring - defense and base running - bit the Bucs today. The glovework wasn't a Pittsburgh bad (except for the shifting) but a Boston's good, with the Red Sox outfield making a couple or three top shelf plays while the Pirates may have cost themselves an inning on the basepath with a caught stealing. And the first stop of the Cutch - Cole rebound tour didn't get off to an auspicious start, with three whiffs for Andrew (looks like he'll see a lot of off-speed stuff this year) and another quick flash of temper perhaps affecting Gerrit's focus after ace-like work early on.
But hey, the season doesn't end today, and the youngsters by and large acquitted themselves OK. Fraze particularly impressed, reaching base three times and handling left field and the Green Monster like he's done it before. Freeser and Fran also had good days stroking the ball. The clubs get a day to sleep Opening Day off and then they're back at it Wednesday night when Jameson Taillon goes against Chris Sale.
|Jameson follows Gerrit to the hill v Boston (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)|
- David Freese had two hits to lead the Pirates (Adam Frazier had a single, walk, and beaning) while Xavier Bogaerts had a pair of hits and a pair of stolen bases to lead the Red Sox.
- Daniel Hudson had a feast-or-famine type of frame: he faced five batters, tossed 20 pitches, and gave up a hit and a walk to go with three strikeouts.
- There were 36,594 at Fenway today. They watched Patriot's QB Tom Brady throw out the first pitch.