Pittsburgh Pirates Lose in Disastrous Fashion in Home Opener

Michael Nitti
PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 01: Chris Archer #24 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals on Opening Day at PNC Park on April 1, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 01: Chris Archer #24 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals on Opening Day at PNC Park on April 1, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /
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The Pittsburgh Pirates fall to the St. Louis Cardinals 6-5 in 11 innings in their home opener Monday afternoon.

Coming off a two-game split that sandwiched a rainout against the Cincinnati Reds this past weekend, the Pittsburgh Pirates get handed their second loss of the year thanks to poor defense and a couple shaky outings from the bullpen in their home opener at PNC Park after losing to the Cardinals 6-5 on Monday afternoon.

On a sunny, yet brisk, Monday afternoon, Chris Archer toed the rubber for the Buccos as veteran right-hander Adam Wainwright opposed him for the Red Birds.

Archer got his 2019 season off to a superb start, striking out Matt Carpenter and Paul DeJong in the first inning.  In the bottom half of the inning, things would not go as smooth for Wainwright. Following two straight walks to Adam Frazier and Starling Marte, the Pirates took advantage, scoring three quick runs started by an RBI groundout from Josh Bell and capped off by a two-run double from Colin Moran to make the score 3-0.

After another couple shutout innings dealt by Archer, the Pirates threatened again in the third. Marte led off the inning with a single, followed by a double by Corey Dickerson, which put the Pirates in prime position to score having runners on second and third with no outs with the middle of the lineup coming up.  However, after a sacrifice fly from Bell, the Cardinals managed to escape relatively unscathed.

In the top of the fifth, after allowing a leadoff single, Archer struck out three straight batters to end his day, the third of which coming against red-hot slugger Paul Goldschmidt.  Archer finished his five-inning outing with eight strikeouts, three walks, and no runs on just two hits.  Despite the impressive start, Archer was not very efficient, throwing 99 pitches (60 strikes, 39 balls) to get it done.

As a result, that left the game in the hands of the bullpen, as the Pirates had a 4-0 lead to maintain for four more innings.  After a clean sixth inning from Kyle Crick, manager Clint Hurdle went to Richard Rodriguez to handle the seventh.  But after hitting Dexter Fowler to leadoff the inning, Rodriguez gave up a two-run blast to Kolten Wong, making it a 4-2 game. The trouble wouldn’t end there.

Rodriguez would give up a single to Harrison Bader before Tyler O’Neill reached on an error by Moran.  With no outs and runners on first and second, Hurdle went back to the bullpen, this time to Francisco Liriano to take on the dangerous lefty Matt Carpenter, who he would subsequently walk before getting swiftly removed .

Now, with the bases loaded, no outs, and Goldschmidt coming to the plate, in came Keone Kela. But after getting ahead of Goldschmidt 0-2, Kela ended up walking him as the Cardinals tacked on another run to make it 4-3.  Despite that, Kela got out of the jam, getting DeJong to fly out and striking out both Marcell Ozuna and Yadier Molina to end the frame.

In the top of the eighth, Nick Burdi came in to face the bottom of the Cardinals order.  To lead off the inning, Yairo Munoz hit a soft ground ball past Burdi and off the glove of shortstop Erik Gonzalez for a single.  Burdi managed to strike out the next two batters, but following a wild pitch that advanced Munoz to second base, O’Neill tied the game with a double down the line.

In the ensuing bottom half of the inning, Moran led things off with a go-ahead solo HR to put Pittsburgh back ahead 5-4.  Moran would end up going 2-3 with three RBI and two walks.

Coming back out after getting the final out of the eighth, Felipe Vazquez looked to close it out for the Buccos.  But, once again, the Cardinals tied it up after an error by Gonzalez, a wild pitch by Vazquez, and an RBI double by Jose Martinez.

With the score at 5-5, Jordan Hicks dealt a 1-2-3 bottom of the ninth to send this game to extra, where things would not fare well for the Pirates.

As both teams failed to score in the 10th, Steven Brault came on for the top of the 11th for his second inning of work.  Brault was able to retire the first two batters, but after giving up a single, a hit by pitch, and a walk to load the bases, Nick Kingham was called upon to escape the jam. However, on the ensuing batter, a passed ball allowed DeJong to score from third base, putting St. Louis up 6-5, their first lead of the game.

In the bottom of the 11th, the Pirates wouldn’t put up much of a fight, as after J.B. Shuck grounded out, and Adam Frazier walked, Marte grounded into a double play to end the game with the final score 6-5.

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With an off day tomorrow, the Buccos will get back at it on Wednesday night as Jameson Taillon will go up against Miles Mikolas with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m.

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