Baseball. It’s finally here. For better or for worse, the Pittsburgh Pirates are once again playing baseball at beautiful PNC Park. Even today’s rain and snow mix couldn’t keep away the crowd of 39,078 from watching their beloved (somehow, even if it’s too deep down to admit sometimes) Pirates. The Pirates rewarded their fans with 3 hits en route to a 3-1 loss to the Cubs.
The Cubs jumped on AJ Burnett quickly, with number 2 batter Starlin Castro singling and Anthony Rizzo following that with a homerun to make it 2-0 in the top of the 1st inning. AJ managed to escape the inning without further damage, just giving up one more hit and 2 groundouts. From then on, AJ buckled down and only gave up 2 hits and a walk–until the 6th inning. After getting Alfonso Soriano to ground out, AJ hit Nate Schierholtz with a pitch and then gave up an RBI double to Welington Castillo. Castillo was tagged out at 3rd, but AJ’s day was done. He struck out 10 Cubs batters, but the Cubs made him pay for the 6 hits and walk he gave up. Justin Wilson came in to finish the inning and pitch a perfect 7th inning, striking out 2. Jared Hughes pitched a perfect 8th inning, and Mark Melancon pitched a scoreless 9th, the only baserunner reaching on an error. The bullpen’s scoreless effort gave the Buccos a chance to come back.
The Pirates’ half of the 1st inning starting out well, the first 2 batters reaching on a walk and then an error. However, a groundout and 2 strikeouts snuffed out any chance of scoring a run. The Pirates only managed 2 hits from then until the 9th inning. The Cubs’ bullpen finally took over, with Carlos Marmol coming in to pitch. Their first run came in the 9th, when Andrew McCutchen was hit by a pitch and Pedro Alvarez singled him in. Gaby Sanchez followed Pedro’s at-bat with a walk, and with 1 out and 2 men on, the Pirates looked like they had a good chance with Neil Walker and Russell Martin coming to bat next. However, James Russell came in to replace Marmol, and both Walker and Martin flied out. The Pirates only managed 2 hits total against the Cubs’ Jeff Samardzija. Russell Martin was 0-4 in his Pirates debut but seemed to work well with AJ Burnett.
Losses aren’t fun, especially on Opening Day. But the Pirates have had their share and know that tomorrow is a new day. After an off day tomorrow, Wandy Rodriguez, Mr. Consistent himself, will make the start for the Buccos on Wednesday night. He’ll face the Cubs’ Edwin Jackson.