All of the Key Moments in the Pirates’ Home Opener Win

The Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Detroit Tigers today in their home opener at PNC Park, bringing their record to 3-4 on the season. The Pirates won thanks to a lot of power, great pitching from Gerrit Cole, and a key performance from Jared Hughes. Here is a summary of the events, along with photos from Pirates Prospects photographer David Hague (click the images for a larger view).

Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker were presented with their 2014 Silver Slugger awards before the game.

(Photo Credit: David Hague)
Andrew McCutchen – (Photo Credit: David Hague)
(Photo Credit: David Hague)
Neil Walker – (Photo Credit: David Hague)

A.J. Burnett got a big ovation from the record-setting crowd at PNC Park when he was announced.

(Photo Credit: David Hague)
A.J. Burnett – (Photo Credit: David Hague)

Gerrit Cole: “There were some butterflies early, for sure, before the game. Luckily I was able to calm those down.”

(Photo Credit: David Hague)
(Photo Credit: David Hague)

It helped that Josh Harrison got the Pirates on the board first, sending the first pitch over the wall.


Harrison: “I was just looking [for a fastball] out over the plate, and he left it up, and I put a good swing on it.”

(Photo Credit: David Hague)
Josh Harrison – (Photo Credit: David Hague)

Gerrit Cole pitched a gem, giving up one run on three hits in six innings, with two walks and eight strikeouts.

(Photo Credit: David Hague)
Gerrit Cole – (Photo Credit: David Hague)

Cole: “For the most part we stayed down and just tried to work the ball in and out, and that seemed to work for us today.”

(Photo Credit: David Hague)
Gerrit Cole – (Photo Credit: David Hague)

There was a rough moment in the seventh inning when Cole loaded the bases with no outs. Jared Hughes was called on and got a double play with his first pitch, followed by a two-pitch pop out.


Hughes: “With the bases loaded you just have to pitch aggressively, get ahead in the count. What I was planning on doing is getting ahead in the count, because that’s when you have the odds in your favor as a pitcher.”


Cole: “It was excellent execution. Didn’t waste any time getting the double play, which was awesome. Went right after the next guy and popped him straight up.”

(Photo Credit: David Hague)
Jared Hughes – (Photo Credit: David Hague)

Hughes got out of the jam, but gave up a run to cut the Pirates’ lead to 2-1. But the first basemen broke it open in the bottom of the seventh. Pedro Alvarez started things off with a solo homer, his third of the year.

(Photo Credit: David Hague)
Pedro Alvarez – (Photo Credit: David Hague)

Corey Hart followed that up with a pinch hit home run later in the inning, giving the Pirates a 5-1 lead. It was nice to see Hart hitting a key home run in PNC Park while not wearing a Brewers uniform.

(Photo Credit: David Hague)
Corey Hart – (Photo Credit: David Hague)

Mark Melancon came on in the end to protect the four run lead, but struggled. Two doubles to left field, followed by a two-run homer by J.D. Martinez cut the score to 5-4.

(Photo Credit: David Hague)
Mark Melancon – (Photo Credit: David Hague)

Melancon gave up a single following the homer, but got things back on track with a 5-4-3 double play, started by Josh Harrison, and finished off the game by getting Victor Martinez to strike out swinging on a curve in the dirt.

(Photo Credit: David Hague)
Josh Harrison – (Photo Credit: David Hague)


(Photo Credit: David Hague)
Pedro Alvarez – (Photo Credit: David Hague)
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Great presentation and much appreciated. Gerrit Cole was definitely on, and Harrison, Alvarez, and Hart made it a comfortable game until the 9th. I did not get to see the game so I have spent a lot of time watching MLB and have a question. If I am not mistaken, Sanchez was still pitching when Hart was selected to pinch hit for Hughes. Was Andrew Lambo still available? Was this just a hunch on Hurdle’s part or does Hart have a good record against Sanchez?

I am glad that Hughes was able to get out of that jam in the 7th, but I do not think it was due to good pitch location – the DP came off a waist high pitch that had a lot of the plate, as was the pitch that led to the flyout. We need him at the knees and below – those pitches missed by a foot or more.


It was good to see Cole bounce back from a sub par first start. Cervelli has been hitting pretty well – I am pleasantly surprised so far by him. Marte is a mess right now – we need to get him straightened out.


Although Melancon did an admirable job last year in the closer role, I have always said he is not the ideal closer. I was hoping Holzkom or someone else could step into that role, and drop Melancon to his better suited 8th inning role.

He’s looking very hittable so far this year.


Not an ideal closer? Melancon’s velocity loss is very concerning but let us not re-invent the past. Over the last two seasons of the 200 relievers who have thrown 60 innings, Melancon ranks 5th in ERA and 5th in FIP. Strikeouts, ground-balls, and no walks is a damn good combination. But yeah he doesn’t throw 95 and have a great entrance video.

Luke S

Im not defending Melancon’s play, but anyone who suddenly loses 3+ mph on the FB is gonna get hit hard. When having his usual stuff, Melancon is a top 5 closer in the game. The issue this year isnt him forgetting how to be that guy, but his velo disappeared. Throwing 89-90, he isnt even a good 8th inning option. Im baffled that no one has asked Hurdle or Searage whats going on.


Because it’s the Pgh media. They don’t ask the questions.

Robert Reznik

The photos are great. However on my iPhone at least after I blow a picture up and return all the pictures show Pedro,

Does anyone else find the finish on Cole,s pitch get awkward it’s like his elbow flung to the side and it looks like he would be putting a lot of pressure on the elbow

Jason K

I have the same issues with the photos on my iPhone


I’ve gotta say it though I may come to regret it, I am once again a fan of pedro. While I could not stand him at third I’m really liking him at first. Cole looks like he is becoming the ace we all thought he could be. Josh was just josh. Hughes impressed, hart looks like a good pickup, marte needs to stop swinging for the fence on every pitch and finally melancon showed why I have never gotten the warm and fuzzies when he comes in the game, granted he gets the job done but man we could all live without that kinda pucker factor. All in all a good game and hopefully a sign of things to come.


Loved the game today. The Bucs looked great overall. Melancon is definitely a concern though. Biggest crowd ever at PNC.

Patrick Kelly

Love the visual recap!

A suggestion for how to do these in the future: install a lightbox plugin that will allow the pictures to open up in a small window instead of them opening full-size in the same window. Another option would be to set up a slideshow type box on the page that allows you to have a larger photo with the caption below it. The user could then scroll through the slideshow and read the recap as he/she scrolls through.


Melancon seems to be heading for a major problem. His velocity is down a good bit. I hope Holdzkom is doing well, he may be the near future 8th inning guy.


Yikes, good catch, Leo. All four PITCHf/x games he’s thrown this spring have him sitting under 90mph average. This is something to watch…


What was his velocity?

Patrick Kelly

Sitting around 89. I don’t think he crossed 90, but I may have missed a few readings.

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