The Pittsburgh Pirates remain as one of Major League Baseball’s undefeated teams after their home opener on Monday
Opening Day for the Pittsburgh Pirates was this past Friday at Comerica Park in Detroit. Starting the baseball season on the road does not lessen the excitement, pageantry, or fun of a team’s home opener.
Monday afternoon, the Pittsburgh Pirates played host to the Minnesota Twins in their 2018 home opener. On a chilly day in the Burgh, the Pirates defeated the Twins in front of 30,186 fans at PNC Park by a score of 5-4. With the win, the Pirates are now 4-0 this season.
Jameson Taillon made his 2018 regular season debut for the Pirates on Monday and was phenomenal. Taillon was throwing a filthy power sinker with great movement on Monday to go along with his plus curveball.
Taillon’s great stuff on Monday led to him recording a career high tying 9 strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings pitched. Taillon did not walk a batter, he allowed a pair of runs, and two of the four hits he allowed were infield hits.
Additionally, the second run cahrged to Taillon was as an inherited runner that Edgar Santana allowed to score after Taillon exited the game.
Taillon threw 91 pitches on Monday and this is a big reason he did not pitch deeper into the game. If it were later in the season, Clint Hurdle most likely would have left Taillon in longer. If Monday was any sign of things to come then my prediction that Taillon will be a top-10 pitcher in the National League by the end of the season is one I feel great about.
While Taillon was dealing on Monday, it was the Pirate offense that got the fans at PNC Park up on their feet early and put a quick charge into the ballpark.
Longtime Pirate punching bag Lance Lynn started for the Twins on Monday. After Lynn walked Josh Harrison to start the game, Gregory Polanco, who finished the game 1-for-1 with four walks, doubled home Harrison to give the Pirates a quick 1-0 lead.
After Lynn walks to Starling Marte and Francisco Cervelli would load the bases. Then with two outs and facing a 3-2 count, Colin Moran ended his first ever at-bat at PNC Park in grand fashion. Moran drove Lynn’s 3-2 fastball over the Clemente Wall for his first Pirate home run and first career grand slam.
As Moran stepped out of the dugout to receive a curtain call from the Pirate faithful, the Bucs had a 5-0 lead. While things would get stressful, these 5 runs would prove to be all they needed on Monday.
With a runner on first and one out in the top of the 6th inning, Hurdle would pull Taillon. This came with the Pirates leading 5-1 and was a questionable move. While Santana and Josh Smoker made things interesting in the top of the 6th inning and made it appear that Hurdle’s decision would backfire, Dovydas Neverauskas helped to calm things down. Neverauskas got the final out of the 6th inning and pitched a scoreless top of the 7th inning, keeping the score at 5-4 Pirates.
With Felipe Rivero unavailable the usual bullpen roles changed for the Pirates. This led to Michael Feliz pitching the top of the 8th inning. Feliz, with the help of strikeout, would work around a pair of walks. George Kontos then fired a 1-2-3 top of the 9th inning to close out the 5-4 Pirate victory.
After a day off on Tuesday, the undefeated Pittsburgh Pirates return to action on Wednesday night at 6:05. Ivan Nova will get the ball for the Pirates as they look to defeat Jake Odorizzi and the Twins in an effort to sweep the abbreviated two-game series.