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Wandy Rodriguez shines in Pirates’ two-hit shutout over Cubs

Final: Pirates 3, Cubs 0 (box)

WP: Wandy Rodriguez (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
LP: Edwin Jackson (0-1, 3.60 ERA)
SV: Jason Grilli (1, 0.00 ERA)
MVP: Wandy Rodriguez (.248 WPA)

Wandy Rodriguez picked up right where he left off this spring as he tossed 6 2/3 scoreless innings, giving up just two hits. He struck out six batters and walked just one. Tony Watson helped get out of a bases loaded jam in the seventh and added a 1-2-3 eighth inning before giving way to new closer Jason Grilli who wrapped things up with a 1-2-3 ninth for his first save of the year.

The Pirates put up their first two runs in the fourth inning when Garrett Jones led off with a single. Andrew McCutchen would then drive him in with a double that short-hopped the left field wall. McCutchen would later score when Gaby Sanchez reached on an error by Starlin Castro to give the Pirates a 2-0 lead.

Pittsburgh would add an insurance run in the seventh inning thanks to a lead off double by Clint Barmes, who would score on an RBI single by Starling Marte.

Rodriguez, Watson, and Grilli combined for nine strikeouts, giving the staff 24 on the season.

James McDonald will take the hill tomorrow at 12:35 against Travis Wood to decide the series.

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Game 2: Pittsburgh Pirates vs Chicago Cubs

Published on April 3, 2013 by in Game Thread

Chicago Cubs (1-0, 1st in NL Central) @ Pittsburgh Pirates (0-1, T-4th in NL Central)

Game Time: 7:05 ET (Tickets)

Probable Starters:
CHC – Edwin Jackson (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
PIT – Wandy Rodriguez (0-0, 0.00 ERA)

50x50_t470Historically, Wandy Rodriguez gets out of the gate fast. He has a career 2.95 ERA in the month of April. He also went 2-1 with a 2.25 ERA in three starts against the Cubs last season.

50x50_t470I never really understood why, but when 29-year old Edwin Jackson throws his first pitch tonight, the Cubs will become the eighth team in Jackson’s career he would have played on. That’s crazy. Especially for someone who has been a pretty useful arm over that time.

50x50_t470Andrew McCutchen has homered twice off Edwin Jackson in 11 career at bats.

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Burnett K’s 10 in Opening Day loss to Cubs

Final: Cubs 3, Pirates 1 (box)

WP: Jeff Samardzija (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
LP: A.J. Burnett (0-1, 4.76 ERA)
SV: Kyuji Fujikawa (1, 0.00 ERA)

A.J. Burnett struck out ten batters in his first career Opening Day start, but it wasn’t enough as the Cubs scored two runs in the first inning on an Anthony Rizzo home run and led the rest of the way.

Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija gave up just two hits and one walk over eight shutout innings as the Pirates struggled to get out of the gate offensively.

Pedro Alvarez drove home the Bucs’ only run on a single in the ninth inning that scored Andrew McCutchen.

Relievers Justin Wilson, Jared Hughes, and Mark Melancon combined to toss 3 1/3 scoreless innings while adding another five strikeouts to push the staff’s total to 15 on the afternoon.

Neil Walker, Andrew McCutchen, and Pedro Alvarez were the only Pirates who were able to collect a hit. McCutchen stole the first base of the season for the club in the ninth inning following a walk that moved him into scoring position.

The Pirates are off tomorrow and face the Cubs again on Wednesday at 7:05 ET. Wandy Rodriguez takes the hill for the Bucs against Edwin Jackson.

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Opening Day: Pittsburgh Pirates vs Chicago Cubs

Published on April 1, 2013 by in Game Thread

Chicago Cubs (0-0, T-1st in NL Central) @ Pittsburgh Pirates (0-0, T-1st in NL Central)

Probable Starters:
CHC – Jeff Samardzija (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
PIT – A.J. Burnett (0-0, 0.00 ERA)

“Now we play games that mean something. It’s time to go.” – A.J. Burnett

50x50_t470A.J. Burnett for the first time in his career will take the mound on Opening Day. He went 2-1 with a 1.40 ERA in three starts against the Cubs last season.

50x50_t470Andrew McCutchen (3 for 10) and Russell Martin (1 for 1) are the only two players in the Pirates’ starting lineup with career batting averages of .300 or above against Cubs’ starter Jeff Samardzija.

50x50_t470The Pirates have won five of their last six Opening Day games with their only loss being last season to the Philadelphia Phillies.

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Opening Day 2013

Published on April 1, 2013 by in Features1

There is nothing quite like Opening Day.

Growing up, I remember going to Opening Day with my father numerous times to Three Rivers Stadium. It was a national holiday for me. I remember being able to miss school to watch baseball. It was literally a dream come true. Even after going off to college and leaving the city of Pittsburgh, I always try to make it back for this glorious day.

This year just feels different from others, though. I’m not heading back to Pittsburgh. I’ll be in my office working all day. But I think a lot of it has to do with last season.

There is nothing more mentally draining to a fan than the 162 game baseball season. I’ll stick to that. Football has weekly games where you get crazy for a few hours a week. Hockey fans are as passionate as any, but the season lasts 82 games with four off days a week. Baseball is a 162 game marathon and last season’s marathon saw the Pirates practically die of heat stroke heading down the home stretch. It was the probably the biggest emotional roller coaster I’ve ever had in my short life. And it ended poorly.

But Opening Day cures everything. For 20 years, Pirates fans have said “this is the year” as hope springs eternal. Forget last year. Forget the year before. Forget the streak. Just enjoy baseball.

Like I said before, this year feels different for me after last season. But you can bet that at 1:35, I’m going to have MLB At Bat pulled up on the iPhone cheering on my team. And all the bad taste in my mouth from last year will go away for a few hours, knowing that baseball season is officially here.

Let’s go Bucs.

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Spring Training Notes: Roster Set, A.J. Burnett

50x50_t470The Pirates finished up their final cuts to minor league camp along with designating Clint Robinson and Hunter Strickland for assignment and have set their Opening Day roster. It will look like this:

SP A.J. Burnett
SP Wandy Rodriguez
SP James McDonald
SP Jonathan Sanchez
SP Jeff Locke

RP Jeanmar Gomez
RP Chris Leroux
RP Jared Hughes
RP Mark Melancon
RP Tony Watson
RP Justin Wilson
CL Jason Grilli

C Russell Martin
1B Garrett Jones
2B Neil Walker
3B Pedro Alvarez
SS Clint Barmes
LF Starling Marte
CF Andrew McCutchen
RF Travis Snider

C Michael McKenry
IF Josh Harrison
IF John McDonald
IF Gaby Sanchez
OF Jose Tabata

*Brandon Inge will start the season on the 15-day disabled list.

50x50_t470Rob Biertempfel wrote today that this may be A.J. Burnett’s final year playing baseball as the 36-year old is contemplating retirement. Burnett is in the final year of a five-year, $82.5 million contract. Here’s a direct quote from Burnett:

“If I was to keep playing, I wouldn’t want it to be anywhere else but Pittsburgh. My wife and I talk about it now and then. But it’s something I’ve got to put on the back burner. I’m just going to concentrate on this season, one start at a time.”

50x50_t470Jeanmar Gomez and Jonathan Sanchez. Ugh.

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