Opening day didn’t disappoint. The Pirates and Cubs engaged in a pitcher’s duel that lasted until the Bucs first batter in the bottom of the 10th. With the game scoreless, Neil Walker launched a walkoff solo homerun to give the Pirates an Opening Day win. You can find the complete boxscore here.

5 Thoughts On Game 1:

1. There is a real aura of excitement surrounding this team. PNC Park was packed to the gills for the opener. Attendance was 39,833, which is a PNC Park regular season record. The pregame ceremony saw awards from last season handed out. Andrew McCutchen received his MVP trophy from previous Bucco MVPs Barry Bonds and Dick Groat. As expected, Bonds was met with a balanced mixture of cheers and boos.

2. Pitching was stellar. This isn’t anything new. The Pirates found their way to the postseason last year largely behind consistently good pitching. Liriano pitched 6 full innings while giving up only 4 hits. He found himself in a couple of jams, but was able to pitch his way out of them. He struck out 10 Cubbies while only walking 3. It would be ideal to get more than 6 innings from the starting pitcher, but this was a strong outing for Frankie. The bullpen took over and only allowed 2 hits in the 4 innings they saw. Tony Watson, Mark Melancon, Jason Grilli and Bryan Morris all saw an inning each. Morris took the win.

3. Jeff Samardzija continued his dominance over the Pirates. He allowed only 5 hits over 7 full innings. The guy has a lifetime 4.19 ERA, but somehow turns into a stingy ace every time he faces the Bucs. It was great to come away with a win, but this team needs to figure Samardzija out.

4. Travis Ishikawa had a pretty good game. He fumbled a pick-off throw from Liriano that easily would have gotten the runner. In fact, the umpire originally called him out but reversed after seeing Ishikawa didn’t have posession of the ball. Outside of that, he was very solid. First base is easily the weakest spot in the Pirates lineup. It was something everyone expected to be addressed in the offseason, but never was. One of the main keys for early success is going to be having the Ishikawa/Sanchez platoon produce offensively and limit errors. Travis was 2-3 from the plate on the day. He had the one error, but was otherwise solid defensively. This will be an interesting narrative as the season progresses.

5. The Pirates are undefeated since the launch of Battling Buccos. Look, I’m not trying to take ALL of the credit, but the facts are the facts. The Pirates haven’t lost a regular season game since this website launched. You’re welcome.

 

Player of the Game: Francisco Liriano

 

Play of the Game: Neil Walker home run in the 10th inning

 

 

The Pirates have an off day tomorrow, but will be back at it Wednesday night at 7:05 P.M against the Cubs.

Jeff Samardzija RHP (8-13, 4.34 last season) vs. Francisco Liriano LHP (16-8, 3.02 last season)

The wait is over. At 1:05 P.M. the 2014 Pittsburgh Pirates season kicks off at PNC Park. Just like the 2013 campaign, 2014 starts with a Monday afternoon tilt against the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs will send right-hander Jeff Samardzija to the mound. Samardzija is coming off of a rough spring training registering a 5.14 ERA in 21 innings of action. The Pirates will counter with lefty ace Francisco Liriano.

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As part of his busy off-season, NL MVP Andrew McCutchen filmed a commercial for ESPN SportsCenter. It’s not the best SportsCenter spot I’ve seen, but it’s nice to see a Pirates player featured.