Does anyone else feel like they just time traveled to 2013?
The Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Chicago White Sox 13-9 in front of a sold out crowd dressed in black at PNC Park.
Aside from the blackout, the game saw the return of Andrew McCutchen to Pittsburgh in a Pirates uniform; appearances from Russell Martin and A.J. Burnett; Neil Walker in the booth; and I swore at one point that the Pirates lineup would hit more home runs today as a team than Pedro Alvarez did that entire season.
Rich Hill got the start for the Pirates today, and was hit hard with three home runs allowed in four innings. That led to seven earned runs on the day, and I can’t think of the last Pirates lineup where you felt like the team might still have a chance with that kind of performance from your starter.
Hill was down 5-3 after four innings, with Ji-Hwan Bae due up for the Pirates in the bottom of the fourth.
Bae led off with a bunt single, reaching base on a close slide on a play that was originally called an out, but overturned on replay. He moved to third base on a single to right from Jason Delay.
The Pirates have had a few balls drop in just out of reach of fielders in the last few games. That happened again when Oneil Cruz dropped a single between the shortstop and center fielder, scoring a run. It’s harder to make those plays when you’ve got Bae at third, likely scoring no matter what the outcome of that shallow fly ball was.
The ball wasn’t caught, and that set the table for Bryan Reynolds to launch a three run homer into the cheering home bullpen, putting the Pirates up 7-5, and showing that the offense this year can’t be counted out.
Hill couldn’t hold the lead long. He gave up a leadoff single in the next inning, followed by a two run home run that just cleared the rail over the Clemente Wall, tying the score at 7-7. The Pirates called on Dauri Moreta, who came on to retire the side in order, striking out two.
The fifth inning for the Pirates was a lot like the fourth. With one out, Connor Joe doubled as one of his four hits on the day. Bae singled on a hard hit ball through the left side of the infield. Delay then followed with another ball that was hit perfectly between the third baseman and shortstop, giving the Pirates an 8-7 lead.
Cruz drew a one out walk to load the bases for Reynolds, who came up big with a Little League grand slam. Reynolds lined an 0-1 pitch to the right field corner, moving to third as the throw skipped past him and toward the right field foul ground, allowing him to get up and jog home to give the Pirates a 12-7 lead.
Are you kidding, Bryan Reynolds?!?! pic.twitter.com/iJBTuPeDvl
— MLB (@MLB) April 7, 2023
From there, the Pirates bullpen kept the White Sox off the board. Moreta returned for another inning, working a scoreless sixth as the pitcher of record. Wil Crowe came on in the seventh and worked the final three frames to save the bullpen. The Pirates added an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth, when Joe hit his third double, which scored Carlos Santana. In a summary of this wild offensive game, Santana homered way back in the second inning to make the score 1-1. Santana’s run in the bottom of the eighth put the Pirates up 13-7.
Crowe gave up two runs in the ninth, causing David Bednar to get up briefly in the bullpen. The Pirates closer wasn’t needed, as Crowe was able to close out the 13-9 game with two strikeouts, giving the Pirates a win and a 5-2 record to start the season.
**I’m going to be writing about the bottom of the lineup in my daily column tomorrow. The 7-8-9 trio of Joe, Bae, and Delay was so good this afternoon. They combined to go 10-for-15 with six runs scored and three RBIs. Note that spread: These guys were the table setters for Bryan Reynolds, who knocked in six runs and scored three.
**Dauri Moreta has been great so far. This is the fourth time he’s come into a game and just shut down an offense that was — up until he arrived in the game — threatening to score runs. He’s bailed out four starters now in the fifth inning, leading to a change in momentum that allows the Pirates to either protect their lead, or in today’s case, get a new one.
**Bryan Reynolds is playing like a guy who is trying to force the Pirates to pay him with every swing of the bat. That’s all I’m going to say right now. I might have more about that this weekend.
Live Discussion: Pirates Bring a Winning Record into the Home Opener
Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.
Does anybody else’s notifications go away after just looking at one comment? This is the third day in a row for me.
As great as it feels to watch the Bucs playing so well, the cherry on top is seeing STL at 2-5 & having internal arguments am i right. Im starting to understand that maybe ST really doesnt matter.
Hill and Suwinski gotta go. And let’s not go crazy……this is still probably a 90 loss tram without a couple upgrades during the year. Its possible I guess from within.
Not to be a David Downer, but wasn’t there a fairly recent season where we started 7-2 and then totally collapsed?
And 2012 STILL gives me nightmares.
It is a long season, boys.
You can enjoy the ride without buying the car, lol.
Not if the car runs out of gas 20 miles into the trip…..and you’re 100 miles from a gas station.😇😇😇
Is rich hill done? Well maybe, his breaking stuff has no bite and his fast ball has nothing to play off of. Which means the batter can go up hunting breaking balls and have plenty of time to catch up with a batting practice fast ball. I think father time has caught up with rich hill . Now as for Jack suwinski he looks ahem a lot tardy on the fastball and should go to the Bradenton hitting lab for some intense break down of his swing.
This game encapsulated all the reasons we love baseball. Heroes, new and old, doing heroic things. And my God, how emotional was it seeing Cutch get a hit after wiping tears from his eyes.
What an incredible game. Hopefully just one of many this year.
Watching aaa bye the bye, Swags and Tupo are playing well (so is Endy) but it’s the pitching that is Not impressive… control is awful right now I never saw so many balls to the backstop. Endy would have to be Marc Andre Fluery to handle that staff.
Jack is completely lost at the plate and needs to go down to aaa.
put Bae in center and Castro at second Or Joe and CSN start with Reynolds’s in Center.
I almost feel he should go back to AA. He skipped AAA the 1st time and his plate discipline is bad.
Send him to AAA. He already toured Altoona. Let him see what Indianapolis is all about. Maybe he is a Colts fan.
Great recap Tim and in regards to Moreta I get it that he got out of his second inning unscathed but for now he’s been valuable at getting the last out and finishing innings and he did a great job of shutting down a very good offensive team that was teeing off on Hill and was feeling good and he shut them down. Why would you let them see Moreta again especially since the kid pitches with a lot of emotion and sometimes that is hard to carry over after a long stint in the dugout. The only thing I see that Shelton had done right early this season is stay away from bullpen guys who haven’t pitched well and was staying away from feeling he has to get two innings out of every pitcher. That use to be a thing but it ain’t no more.
I remember going home to Pittsburgh circa 2013-14 and being amazed how many people were wearing Pirates gear. And not some worn out shirt they just cut the grass in. Like brand new stuff that they wore with pride. I hope to go home this summer and see the same thing. I love how quickly Pittsburgh gets behind a winner. Same as when the Pens got the old Malkin and Crosby draft turn around. May be the beer talking.
Everyone loves a “new” winner, especially one that is entirely unexpected. This Club, with the combination of youthful energy, core players in their prime playing great, and veteran leadership, has all the ingredients to make it a fun summer in Pittsburgh.
Much better than the whisky talking!
Not as good as the za talking.
Too much za in the 90’s and 00’s has me debating if I imagined going to a home opener that had snow flurries. NMR brought one up that I know Gravity bongs did me dirty.
I remember snow for the 2016 opener.
That’s the one he remembers too. I thought it was 07 vs Cards but I was wrong. Like I said, toking took it’s toll. That’s alliteration for all you writers.
Musing marijuana memories, mercy!
I personally believe that it is too early to make roster changes. That said, wouldn’t mind seeing a change, something like Castro and Suwinski down, replaced by Marcano and Mathias with those two manning 2b and Bae playing CF allowing Joe to get more playing time. The rotation depth took a hit with JT’s injury, but if Hill proves ineffective is really gonna be tested, I guess Ortiz or Caleb Smith is next up if someone is needed right away….
there are more fireballers on the way in the bullpen as well
short rope for anyone without their shit together this year
What I fear is that Shelton is going to mix up the lineup tomorrow, and we’ll see Castro and Choi in tomorrow while Bae and Joe sit! This lineup scored 13 runs today Derek. Leave them in!
Sure they’re tired from all the cha-chaing around the bases. Gashouse gang/bugs bunny reference there.
This is the rebuilding phase of rebuilding, instead of the save-Bob-money and don’t-give-a-s*** phase like the last three years. This is where they have to sort through guys who might have a future. So at some point, if it keeps on like this, they need to replace Suwinski and Castro with Marcano and Swaggerty.
Thing is, it isn’t “early” for Jack. He’s been terrible since last July, including his stint in AAA. And including the spring, which sometimes does mean something.
That’s the cold hard truth about Jack. This is truly the situation where “they aren’t doing him any favors by keeping him here”
Yeah, they’re very quick to say other guys need “more development.” There’s nobody in the entire org. right now who needs “more development” more than Jack. It’s one thing to stick with a guy facing a new level, like they did with Cruz, but Jack has yet to show he can hit AAA pitching.
Wow Connor Joe and Bae hitting back to back. They keep this up they need a cool nickname:
The Panda Express? 😉
The Flying Tigers? 🙂
(I realize in these times “The Orient Express” would be a total non-starter! 🙂 )
Bae reminds me of a young Tre Turner
Without the power.
Jesus the hyperbole on Bae is amazing. I’ve seen Turner and Betts comps in the last week.
Sure seems unfair to put that kind of pressure on Trea and Mookie.
It’s professional baseball FFS so every young player who has a good week or a month is a potential legend. Who are you the baseball Grinch?
If me being the baseball grinch consists of calling out moronic player comps, I’m happy to have that role!
Moronic? Lets remember that Bae was a legit top prospect, hit 20 hr last year with elite speed and is simply young. You don’t have to be Stanton to hit bombs; see Trea Turner for example who didn’t even hit 15 hr’s in a season until his 3rd full season in the bigs.
Don’t be so pessimistic, it’s the elite speed with potential pop comp.
Ichiro lite. Very lite.
Start feeding him lard. I don’t want Ichiro light. But I’d take Ichiro. Even if a little heavy.
That whole post is awesome to me.
Damn. I drove from my farm to Charleston, SC. Which is about 2 hours. Wasn’t sure what I was going to find when checking the box score once got settled. Boy I am glad I took Reynolds in my fantasy baseball league. It’s like the best of both worlds. May dust off my old Clemente jersey shirt.
The hitting sans Suwinski looks good right now however the SP will probably need some help in the very near future.
Other than Rich Hill the starting pitching has been quite adequate and sometimes significantly better than adequate. I expect Hill will find his rhythm also, although one of these years will be his last so there is a chance he won’t.
But Oviedo clamped down after one bad inning, Velasquez was surprisingly decent and roansy/Keller are, simply put, legitimate major league talent.
I hope you’re right but I’m a little skeptical outside of Mitch and Contreras.
I’m a LOT skeptical, lol.