Pirates Get Losing Hand of Pitchers Duel on Opening Day

Image Credit: Pittsburgh Pirates

PITTSBURGH, Pa. — The Pittsburgh Pirates lost, 1-0, to the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday. The largest crowd ever in attendance –39,585– to see a ballgame at PNC Park in its 11-year history watched a pitchers duel on Opening Day in Pittsburgh.

“It was a great crowd we had today,” All-Star center fielder Andrew McCutchen said. “It was the most we’ve ever had in the stadium. It was great to be a part of that. Hopefully we can give them something to cheer about on Saturday.”

Lefty Erik Bedard started for the Bucs and faced right-hander Roy Halladay of the Philadelphia Phillies.

Bedard looked very sharp against the Phillies in his Pirates debut. Bedard allowed just one run on six hits over seven innings. He walked one and struck out four while tossing 81 pitches, 58 strikes.

“He pitched a very good ballgame,” Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle said. “Very efficient. 21 out of 26 first-pitch strikes. Six ground ball outs for eight outs. Nothing squared up extremely hard at all. You saw a handful of strikeouts…He changed eye levels extremely well today. All around the plate.”

After six scoreless frames and scattering just four hits, the Phillies were able to tack a run off the lefty Bedard.

With one out in the 7th, Ty Wigginton hit a base knock into center field. John Mayberry picked up his second hit off Bedard with a double to right field.

Hurdle said he gave it a quick thought to walk Ruiz, who came up to the plate next, to get to second baseman Freddy Galvis, who went was 0-for-2 with two doubles plays at that point in the game.

“I thought, were we able to get this kid to hit into his third double play in a row,” Hurdle said. “That was my thought. We saw him bang the ball over the ballpark in Philadelphia the last two days. He swung the bat extremely well. That was the thought. It was there for a moment, but I said, ‘let our guy pitch. He’s been pitching extremely well. Let him pitch. We’ll see where he can take it.'”

Ruiz hit a sac fly into shallow right field. Tabata gunned the ball to Rod Barajas at the plate, but Wigginton slid in just before Rod Barajas was able to tag him at the plate.

“It’s always disappointing,” Bedard said of getting the loss despite being solid on the mound. “Any game you lose is disappointing. We did the best we could, and they came out on top…It’s always exciting getting the first one out of the way. Just got to keep going.”

“You can’t really ask for anything more,” McCutchen said. “He did the job that he was supposed to do. I feel like that’s something we’re going to get out of him every start more times than not. He’s going to get the job done for us, we just got to step up on the offensive side and do our job.”

Despite not scoring a run in the first, the Pirates came out of the chute aggressive. Alex Presley lead off the bottom of the first inning with a single into center field off Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay. Jose Tabata followed by laying down a perfect bunt for a base hit. Andrew McCutchen, however, hit into a double play, to push Presley to third base. Neil Walker flew out to left to end the inning.

And from there, the Bucs went hitless against Halladay, McCutchen and Clint Barmes being the only base runners over the next seven frames (both hit by pitch).

“He was utilizing all his pitches, utilizing the corners, hitting spots when they needed to be hit when needed,” McCutchen said. “That’s how he got the job done for his team. Typical Halladay.”

“It’s hard not to give Roy credit,” Hurdle said. “He’s kind of earned his way in this game. He changed speeds well, sunk the ball extremely well, cut the ball in on left-handers. All the things you’ve come to see him do for period of time he was able to do today. He stays out of the middle of the plate, stays off the barrel. And we weren’t able to counter punch.”

The Pirates lost to the Phillies on Opening Day, 1-0, for the first time in six years.

“We put up a great fight,” McCutchen said. “Bedard did a great job on the mound for us. Wish we were able to score some runs for him, but it didn’t go that way. We just got to learn from what we did today, show up Saturday, and try to get a win.”

Game Notes:

  • Relief: Chris Resop: IP, H, BB, 2K; Juan Cruz: IP, H, 2K
  • Fans saw the largest crowd ever in PNC Park history today, 39,585. It beat out last season’s record of 39,511 against the Boston Red Sox on June 26.

Saturday Game Info:

  • The Pirates will face the Philadelphia Phillies in game two of the three-game set at 7:05 PM. Right-hander Jeff Karstens will face lefty Cliff Lee.

  • “Despite not scoring a run in the first, the Pirates came out of the
    chute aggressive. Alex Presley lead off the bottom of the first inning
    with a single into center field off Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee.”

    Uh, Cliff Lee did not pitch on Opening Day.

  • I was at the game, and if Andrew will excuse me, I had plenty to be excited about for the home opener. I got to see (actually my third time now) maybe the games greatest pitcher of the last decade in Doc Halladay and I got to see our prize free agent pick in Bedard go pitch for pitch. Let me tell you that it is a much more enjoyable game – win or lose – when the pitchers are dialing up first pitch strikes, melting the corners, and basically dominating their craft. It was awesome to watch in person.
    There was also some great defense out there, Neil Walker may have made the play of the day and possibly the week throwing out a runner from left field. Resop and Cruz were solid, and Presley is going to have a fine year – the epitome of a “gamer”.
    So we lost game one, for anyone bummed about that just remember we won the last 5 and how did those seasons turn out? I enjoyed the walk to the ballpark up from CCAC college because there were so many tailgaters, people were everywhere enjoying an absolutely perfect day for a ballgame. I made several friends in the stands around me, and all who were there agreed that it was awesome. Including the festivities around the game such as the blind hero throwing a first pitch strike, standing ovation for Nate McClouth’s return, and many other small but memorable moments. I even got a close up on TV I found out later, but the takeaway from this game was that Bedard is clearly, no doubt, an ace. That’s something I plan to enjoy maybe a few more times this year, another trip to PNC when Bedard is on the mound. Trust me you’ll enjoy it. 

  • Each loss hurts

  • Tough loss. Wiggy being an ex-Buc makes it a little harder and you can find people in KC who still hold a grudge against Mayberry’s dad for showing up late (apparently after a late night) for an afternoon LCS game in 1977. That earned him a spot in Herzog’s dog house and a ticket to Toronto after the season.

    Bedard has started a total of three Opening Day games in his career and is now 0-2. 

  • Had to work and missed the game. Sounds like the real highlight though was when Neil Walker flew out to left. Most humans do not have this ability. I’ve seen plenty of birds do it, however. I wish he had stayed in the batters box and taken his swings, he might have been able to get a hit. Can’t wait to see the highlights, I hope there is footage of this super-human act.