The opening game of the Pittsburgh Pirates three game homestand against the Los Angeles Dodgers had it all.
A catcher’s interference on Austin Hedges in the first inning set things up for a two-out, two-run double by Dodgers rookie Miguel Vargas. In the bottom half, Tucupita Marcano followed a single with a stolen base, and then scored on a Carlos Santana single to make it 2-1 after one inning.
In the second inning, the offense showed a spark on the heels of the Bryan Reynolds extension news.
With one out, Ji-Hwan Bae beat out a grounder to second base for a single and then rather quickly stole second base. After Hedges was hit by a pitch, Ke’Bryan Hayes laced a two-run double to left field for a 3-2 lead.
The Pirates poured it on in the fourth when in similar fashion, Bae singled with one out and then stole second. This time Hedges singled in Bae to make it 4-2. After a Hayes single and another out, Andrew McCutchen stepped to the plate and crushed a sinker into the right field stands for a three-run homerun and 7-2 lead.
Johan Oviedo was having to battle most of the game against a tough Dodgers offense. He seemed to settle into a groove after the two runs in the first, before giving up a run in the fifth.
Things got shaky in the sixth though, but at the same time it still felt that the Pirates were meant to win this game. Oviedo would leave the game in the sixth with one out, the bases loaded, and one run having already scored to make it 7-4. Robert Stephenson entered the game to try and shut the door, giving up a sacrifice fly to the first hitter he faced to make it 7-5. Mookie Betts stepped to the plate with two on and two outs, and he crushed a 3-2 slider 402 feet. Luckily for the Bucs, Jack Suwinski tracked back to the wall and made a leaping grab to rob Betts of a three-run home run, and keep it a 7-5 game. That closed Oviedo’s night at 5.1 IP, five runs against with only four earned, two walks and four strike outs.
Probably one of the more promising moments of the evening, was Rule 5 selection Jose Hernandez — picked from the Dodgers of all teams — entering in the seventh and not even breaking a sweat. He sat down all three batters he faced on only 17 pitches, striking out two of them. He went down 3-1 to the Dodgers power hitting rookie CF James Outman, before blowing two fastballs right past him to end the inning.
Colin Holderman entered in the eighth, and that’s when the bad began. With one out and two runners on base, Holderman threw a 2-0 sinker that sub-.200 hitting Chris Taylor got ahold of, and the two-run lead turned into a one-run deficit.
To the bottom of the eighth, it appeared everything was setting up for a storybook ending to the evening. After a Marcano hit-by-pitch, the bases were juiced with two outs for McCutchen. He worked a 3-1 count, but then got under a high sinker that he popped up behind home plate to end the inning.
The defense worked some magic to keep it a one-run game in the ninth, with Hayes throwing a runner out at home with one out, and then Santana snagging a hard grounder to end the inning.
It wasn’t in the cards though, with the Pirates hitters going down 1-2-3 in the ninth. They lost game one of the series 8-7, snapping their seven game win streak. They lost, and it didn’t feel good. But at the same time, it was a really good baseball game that kept you on your seat and thinking you could watch this team on a nightly basis.
Raised in Cranberry Twp, PA, Jeff attended Kent State University and worked in Cleveland and Pittsburgh, before moving to New Orleans in September of 2012. His background is as an Engineering Designer, but he has always had a near unhealthy passion for Pittsburgh sports. Hockey and Baseball are his 1A and 1B, combined with his mathematical background, it's led to Jeff's desire in diving into analytics. Jeff is known as Bucs'N'Pucks in the comments, and began writing for Pirates Prospects in 2022 after contributing so many useful bits of information in the comment section.
That was a disappointing loss, but I haven’t cared enough to be disappointed in about 4 years so I guess they are making progress.
Man that loss stings.
Anyone see how the Cards lost, even more painful, capped with a walk off 2 run HR by Blake Sabol
Pirates had some bad breaks in the first, and the Dodgers barely hit anything hard through 5 innings. But a good rebound. Tough one to let get away up 5.
If they’re handing out extensions, Suwinski should be next in line.
Dude is a baby Giles.
I’m with you 22. I’m a believer. That swing..
What a difference a few weeks makes. Not so long ago he was whiffing at an obscene rate and looked lost, now….anyway will need a longer look to see if he sustains. I hope he does.
This could be a risky but huge upside move. Probably could get a reasonable deal rn but if his improved plate approach doesnt stick it could be a lost contract
Of course the Dodgers are a great team but walking just too many (edit – I now realize they walked 4 only?.. but it really felt like they were walking batters any time there’s a runner already on the first base, etc.) & having 3 errors in a game would normally result in a loss anyways. The good part of bullpen collapsing is a tough way to lose but hopefully the buccos continue to fight and start a new winning streak today. There will be games they lose for whatever reason. The hope is the loss & losing feeling doesn’t linger on.
Also, I just hate seeing the national media and others just waiting for the Pirates to collapse. “Easy schedule!”
I’m questioning if the Dodgers are a great team. Thor’s arm is toast.
As far as I’m aware, their bats are great. Pitching, less so.
Again, I don’t know if I would go great. There’s holes – Trace Thompson? Jason Heyward? Chris Taylor? David Peralta? Austin Barnes ? They have guys like Outman who is playing way over his head. They’re actually counting on these guys.
Pirates had that game in the bag and left the Dodgers off the hook. I knew this BP would do this. Holderman probably isn’t an 8th inning arm.
Right now they’re missing Muncy who is their hottest hitter so that definitely helps the Pirates.
Statcast Expected wOBA, xBA, xSLG | baseballsavant.com (mlb.com)
But according to above, even Chris Taylor is making above average quality of contact though. The Rays and the Dodgers bats seem hot if you look at the xwOBA.
I feel like if the Pirates could have just tied the game at 8th, they win the game. Bummer.
I’m probably getting hung up on the semantics of the word *great*
Ah. Fair. I debated shortly between good and great, and since a lot would be surprised if they don’t reach the post season, I went with great.
Also missing Will Smith. And their pitching staff has a mess of injuries.
Losing a 5 run lead at home is tough, but Holderman was going to give up a HR at some point. Just a lousy time to do it. Still think he’s our setup guy. The errors have to stop though. And I wish Cutch took that pitch instead of swinging. What happened to the days when Bucs used to crush Shelby Miller?
The Dodgers have been underperforming in 2023, and in a way, they are in a rebuild on a much lesser scale. Riding a 2 game winning streak coming in and hanging tough, they got the big hit at the right time.
Overall the Pirates had good pitching and 12 hits by 8 different hitters. The D could have been better, but errors only figured in giving up one unearned run in the first inning. Suwinski with a great play. Played strong against an excellent team. Their BP was strong over the last 5 innings giving up only 3 hits, 1 Walk and posted 6 K’s.
A tough loss, but being able to compete with the best in the league is where we want to be. Hope for a bounce back tonight.
Well put Mr. Reed. The Bucs are gamers and give you hope each night that they can and will win.
Overreaction, but still funny.
On a side note, Rob Schneider has a Pirates hat that he got from the DK Sports retail store.