Friday, April 6, 2012

Game 1: Pirates vs. Phillies Recap

Another Opening Day has come and gone. A record crowd went through the gates at PNC Park to see the Pittsburgh Pirates start another run at an attempt to end their futile stretch of 19 straight losing seasons. That feat will not be easy to accomplish. Especially since the Pirates have been rewarded with the toughest schedule in the league for the first 25 games. It all starts with the Philadelphia Phillies and their outstanding rotation which includes last year's Cy Young award winner, Roy Halladay.

If opposing hitters do know anything about Halladay, it is that you have to get to him early. He will make adjustments and destroy you late in games which is a big reason why he throws as many complete games as he does. The Pirates had the perfect opportunity to do just that in the first inning. Alex Presley and Jose Tabata hit back to back singles to start the game. Then Andrew McCutchen grounded into a double play that effectively ended the only threat that the Pirates would make against the Phillies in the game.

Those first two batters were the only thing standing between Halladay and the possibility of a no hitter. He did not allow a hit for the rest of the contest and rarely did the ball even get hit hard. The hardest hit ball was by Clint Barmes which chased John Mayberry to the track in left field but he was able to make a jumping catch to rob Barmes of at least a double.

Erik Bedard came to the Pirates in the offseason with many questions about whether or not he would be able to be the pitcher he was in 2007. He hasn't been healthy for a full season since then but he showed on Thursday what he can do if he is. He matched Halladay pitch for pitch for six innings. His one hiccup came in the seventh inning and the result was as much Clint Hurdle's fault as it was Bedard's. Mayberry doubled with Ty Wiggington on first base to put both runners in scoring position with one out. Carlos Ruiz came up to bat having already gone 2-for-2 against Bedard in the game. First base was open and Freddy Galvis had already grounded into two double plays. Instead, Hurdle decided to pitch to Ruiz. He flew out to Tabata who had a shot at Wiggington at home but the throw was high. The run was the only one in the game.

While Halladay likely could have thrown a complete game, Jon Papelbon was brought on to pitch the ninth in his debut with the Phillies. He had no issues with the top of the Pirates' order to complete the combined two hitter.

The loss for the Pirates ends a streak of five consecutive wins on Opening Day. Looking on the bright side, maybe ending a streak of success at the beginning of the season means they can also end a negative streak at the end of the season.

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