The Pittsburgh Pirates opened Thursday with a lot of hope. The team signed third base prospect Ke’Bryan Hayes to an eight-year, $70 million agreement before the season opener.
The day went downhill once we got to the Hayes extension, unfortunately. It all started badly for the 2022 Pittsburgh Pirates at Busch Stadium, when they lost to the St. Louis Cardinals by a score of 9-0.
The Pittsburgh Pirates’ fortunes quickly deteriorated. After the first inning, they found themselves behind, and the score remained that way throughout the rest of the game. There was also a significant scare that occurred.
Bad Tenor is Established in the First Inning.
Against Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright in the top of the first inning, the Pirates went down in order, with two batters being struck out. Then, in the home half of the inning, the Pirates had a terrifying close call.
Derek Shelton and the training crew examined Hayes on the field before he was taken out of the game. There was an instant collective pause among Pirates fans as news of Hayes’ condition spread. Fortunately, it seems that Hayes’ problem will be quite minor, with sources suggesting that it was only a little case of cramping.
At the same time that Hayes was taken out of the game in the bottom of the first inning, the Red Birds scored first. Beginning the game, Dylan Carlson reached on a bloop double to shallow left field on a weakly hit pop up that Hayes almost made into an unbelievable catch.
Then, Hoy Park, the second baseman, bungled a ground ball that should have resulted in at least one out, if not a double play. Pitcher JT Brubaker did not deserve to be in a 1-0 hole after the first inning.
The Home Run by Tyler O’Neill was the Most Exciting Moment of the Game.
Brubaker gave up 4 runs (on 4 hits, 3 walks, and 2 strikeouts) in 3 innings during his first career Opening Day start. This was certainly not the ideal way to get things started, but Brubaker almost got away with it.
We have already discussed how the first-inning run he allowed was not entirely his fault. Even in the second inning’s bottom half, he came close to getting off the hook.
Brubaker was about to get out of a jam with two outs and two runners on when Cardinal outfielder Tyler O’Neill hit a home run, scoring three runs, off of a 0-1 pitch from Brubaker. It was the game’s defining moment, and it put the Cardinals up, 4-0.
It was a 2-1 game going into the bottom of the eighth inning, but without O’Neill’s blast, the Pirates might have been up by a run or two. If the inning had been handled differently, the Pirates might have been in the game to the very end.
Taking Stock of the Bullpen
After Brubaker left the game, Wil Crowe came in to pitch. Crowe, who has always shown more promise as a relief pitcher than a starting one, had a good performance, striking out three Cardinals while walking two and allowing no runs in two scoreless innings of work.
After that, Duane Underwood Jr. took the stage. Underwood Jr. left the game due to injury after surrendering a double to start the sixth inning. The inherited runner eventually scored, but Heath Hembree was able to escape the inning unscathed.
Underwood Jr.’s injury was not looking good, but the prognosis is still unknown. Expect the Pirates to make a roster change if the right-hander ends up on the disabled list.
Chris Stratton threw a scoreless seventh inning before being relieved by lefty Aaron Fletcher in the eighth. Fletcher gave up a solo home run to Tommy Edman after retiring the first hitter of the inning, then he hit Carlson in the foot, gave up a single to Paul Goldschmidt, then gave up an RBI on a sacrifice fly by O’Neill.
Nolan Arenado hit a 2-run home run off of Fletcher to put the Rockies up 9-0 after O’Neill had driven in 5 runs.
It was a good game for the bullpen, with the exception of Fletcher. With the exception of Fletcher, the Pirates’ relievers went 4 innings and gave up 1 run on 1 hit while striking out 3. To Fletcher, however, this Opening Day is best forgotten.
Kevin Newman’s had a Rough Day.
Kevin Newman has been disadvantaged in numerous ways. Putting Newman ahead of Oneil Cruz in the Pirates’ lineup at shortstop is a move no fan of the team wants to see. While Newman has been one of the worst hitters in baseball over the past two seasons, Cruz is one of the best prospects in the game.
Thursday afternoon, Newman got a single for the Pirates, but by the end of the game, he had earned the ire of the home crowd.
In the second inning, Newman was thrown out trying to steal second. In the third inning, he made an error on a routine ground ball. In the fourth inning, with runners on first and second and no outs, he hit into a double play that ended the game.
There will be more hostility from Pirates’ fans if Newman’s difficulties persist. That will just make the chorus of people demanding that Cruz be called up to replace Newman in the majors even louder.