Pirates Sweep Opening Series

The Pittsburgh Pirates look at the top of their game right now. From hitting, to pitching, to fielding, and to coaching, the Pirates currently look unstoppable. After what seemed to be a long, and very uneventful off-season, the Pirates have shown early on the type of baseball they can play.

The Pirates swept the reigning National League Central Division Champions, the St. Louis Cardinals, who won 100 games last season. On opening day, the Pirates, led by the arm and bat of Francisco Liriano, beat the Cardinals and Adam Wainwright 4-1. Liriano went 6 innings with no runs allowed, 3 hits, and 10 strikeouts. He also added a one out RBI single that gave the Bucs a lead that they would keep the entire game. John Jaso, and David Freese also contributed with their bats and gloves in their Pirates debuts. With Monday off, the Pirates were able to sit back and review their day, and get ready to work on Tuesday.

Since the Pirates had Monday off, they took the field again on Tuesday for Buc Night, which turned out to  be an absolute thriller. The bats were out early on as both teams scored 5 runs a piece within the first 5 innings, and then the bullpens for both teams shut the door on the opposing hitters until the bottom of the 11th when Jordy Mercer was able to hit an RBI walk off single to give the Pirates a 2-0 start on the season. Before the 11th inning, the Cardinals bullpen retired 18 Pirates in a row.  Jon Niese did not look too great in his Pirates debut as he surrendered 4 earned runs in just 5 innings pitched. Fortunately, the Pirates got to Michael Wacha for 10 hits and 5 runs in just 4.1 innings pitched. McCutchen led the offensive explosion with a 3-5 and 1 RBI day, while Polanco went 1-3 and added 2 RBI’s. Although the bats slowed down after the 5th inning, the bullpen showed up and was able to hold the game until Jordy Mercer’s walk off single.

Wednesday was yet another great night for the Pirates. It all started with the arm of Juan Nicasio. Nicasio went 6 innings strong only allowing 1 earned run, 2 hits and 0 walks. His command made him look like he is in mid-season form. To the Cardinals, he was absolutely untouchable. It truly seemed that he could do absolutely nothing wrong, and everything right. The bullpen also added great pitching with Arquimedes Caminero leading the way with 0 runs allowed and only 1 hit surrendered in 1.2 innings pitched. Luebke ended up getting into some trouble in the top of the 9th and the game turned into a save situation when a runner reached second base. That is when Clint Hurdle looked to Melancon to come in and shut the door for his first save of the season. That is just what Melancon did as he recorded his first save of the season, and wrapped up the Pirates’ sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Pirates are looking like a very good baseball early on, but there is a ton of work to do, and the Pirates know that. With 159 games left in the season anything can happen, but when you sweep the reigning division champion, and for that fact the St. Louis Cardinals to start a season, you are definitely doing something right. The Pirates will take on the Cincinnati Reds for a 3 game series in Cincinnati starting Friday, April 8th.

Hunter Stiehler

Burgh Blog Writer

Follow me at @hunter_stiehler and @TheBurghBlog for news, updates, analysis and more!

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