The Pittsburgh Pirates have now won four consecutive home openers
The Pittsburgh Pirates are winless no more. After losing their first two games of the season against the Red Sox, the Pirates defeated the Atlanta Braves by a score of 5-4 in Friday afternoon’s home opener.
On Friday, the Pirates got a fantastic start from Ivan Nova, plenty of offense, and some strong defense. With the win, the Bucs are now 1-2 on the season, while the Braves fall to 1-3 on the season with the loss.
In his first start of the 2017 season, Ivan Nova picked up where he left off at after being traded to the Pirates last August. In six innings pitched Nova allowed one unearned run on six hits, no walks, and he struck out four batters.
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Ivan Nova did not find himself in trouble very often, but he did a great job of pitching out of when he did. With the bases loaded and just one out in the top of the fourth inning, he got Brandon Phillips to hit into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play. He then struck out Phillips with runners on second and third and just one out in the top of the sixth inning.
This was a very encouraging start to the 2017 season for Ivan Nova.
Felipe Rivero pitched the seventh inning for the Pirates and did what he does: blow hitters away. He retired all three batters he faced and recorded a pair of strikeouts.
Wade LeBlanc took over in the eighth inning. After allowing three hits, and recording just one out, he was lifted for Daniel Hudson. Hudson would allow a single to Brandon Phillips that plated a pair of runs, both of which were charged to LeBlanc, and then get got an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Offensively, the Pirates got contributions from many players. The Bucs first run came in the bottom of the third inning when Andrew McCutchen singled in Starling Marte. In the bottom of the fourth, Marte would then single in Jordy Mercer to make it 2-0 Pirates.
After the Braves scored in the top of the fifth, the Pittsburgh Pirates responded immediately in the bottom half of the inning. The Bucs got back-to-back home runs from David Freese and Francisco Cervelli to start the inning. These were the first home runs of the season for each player, and it gave the Pirates a 4-1 lead.
The fifth Pirate run came in the bottom of the seventh inning when Marte singled home Francisco Cervelli. Marte, who hit leadoff on Friday afternoon, finished the game 2-for-4, he was hit by a pitch, and he drove in two runs.
In the ninth inning, Clint Hurdle handed the ball to his, ugh (the save rule is dumb and so is having a designated closer), closer Tony Watson. Watson hit Kurt Suzuki with a pitch to lead off the inning, but he retired the next three batters to close the door on the Braves.
Andrew McCutchen had a great day at the plate on Friday. The baddest dude in the league finished the game 3-for-4 with a walk and a run knocked in. He also hit a pair of balls, one of which went foul and one that wound up a single, with an exit velocity of 100+ MPH. That is a great sign for any hitter.
The day Josh Bell had can not be overlooked either. The Pirate first base went 1-for-3 with a walk in the two spot in the lineup. Additionally, he saw 28 pitches in his four at-bats and played a large role in the Bucs chasing Atlanta starting pitcher Mike Foltynewicz early in the game.
One piece of potentially bad news from Friday revolves around David Freese. After being hit in the shoulder by a Dansby Swanson line drive in the top of the eighth inning, he would exit the game. However, it was after he finished playing defense that half inning.
Hopefully removing Freese from the game was precautionary. With the absence of Jung Ho Kang, the team can not afford to lose David Freese for any extended period of time.
The Bucs and Bravos will be back at it from PNC Park tomorrow night. Chad Kuhl will make his first start of the season for the Bucs, while R.A. Dickey makes his Atlanta Braves debut. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PM.
Unfortunately, due to hockey, the Pirate game will not be televised in the Pittsburgh area. But have no fear, Bucco fans! With the help of MLB.tv we will have you covered with play-by-play updates here at Rum Bunter.