Diary of a long-suffering Pirates fan: Game #1: Calm down everyone. It's only one game. It's a long season

Can I buy my playoff tickets yet?
Pittsburgh Pirates v Miami Marlins
Pittsburgh Pirates v Miami Marlins / Brennan Asplen/GettyImages

The normal reaction for a team after the first game of the season, win or lose, is to say the obvious: "It's a long season. There's a lot of baseball still to be played. You can't read anything into one game."

But when the Pirates win the opening game of the season - a feat that had happened only five times in the past 12 years going into Thursday's game - the appropriate reaction is to whoop it up and celebrate like there is no tomorrow; because, of course, there is a tomorrow, and after tomorrow, the Pirates may no longer be in first place. And so, knowing that the number of days the Pirates will spend in first place in any given year may be very few, a Pirates fan should celebrate each and every one of those precious few days.

Today the Pirates defeated the Miami Marlins 6-5 in 12 innings. Jared Triolo plated what would be the winning run with a two-out bloop single to right field in the top of the 12th inning. In winning the game, the Pirates turned what looked to be a very bad day at the office into a victory.

To be sure, there were some ugly lines in the box score.

First up. Mitch Keller. He gutted out 5 2/3 innings, giving up all five runs that the Marlins scored on seven hits and two walks. He struck out only three. Perhaps the saving grace was that none of those hits left the ball yard, and as such, the game remained in reach for the Pirates' bats. One worries about what Bob Nutting may have thought of Keller's outing, given his recent $77 million investment in the right-hander. "Can I return him for a refund?" he might very well be thinking.

Next up is the 13 runners left on base by the Pirates, an ugly stat indeed. The Pirates batters were just 2-for-17 with runners in scoring position.

Several hitters had bad days at the office. Andrew McCutchen: 0-for-5 with a walk and an RBI, but four strikeouts and five runners left on base.

Henry Davis: 1-for-6 and seven runners left on base. (I should preface Davis's day with an asterisk. He hit several hard balls that were caught by infielders. He deserved better than that stat line would indicate.)

Rowdy Tellez: 0-for-2 with two strikeouts before being pulled for pinch-hitter Edward Olivares, who immediately homered.

The Pirates team as a whole struck out 17 times.

But if you hung in there for the whole game, you saw a very exciting game warts and all. Heroics were provided both offensively and defensively. The bullpen, which did not allow a run, was outstanding. And this occurred without the services of David Bednar.

But here were some of my take aways from the game:

1. Today's game was a preview of how teams are going to pitch to Oneil Cruz this year. If the game is on the line, he will either face a left-hander or be walked. Cruz's day included a clutch game-tying home run in the eighth inning off Sixto Sanchez, a right-handed reliever, who probably foolishly thought it was safe to pitch to Cruz because the Marlins had a one-run lead and no one was on base. But earlier in the game, in the sixth inning, the Marlins brought in a lefty, Andrew Nardi, to face Cruz with the bases loaded and one out. Nardi struck out Cruz. Cruz was later walked intentionally in the 12th inning, which set up the Jared Triolo game-winning hit.

2. Connor Joe made an outstanding putout at first base in the bottom of the 10th that saved the game for the Pirates. Cruz let loose an errant throw on a double play attempt that Joe laid out for to catch. If it had gotten by him, the Marlins runner on second would have scored and the Marlins would have been celebrating this Opening Day victory and not the Pirates. I was surprised that the Marlins did not challenge the out call at first on the field, because I am still not convinced that Joe's foot was on the bag when he caught the ball. But the call was out and it went unchallenged. And the Marlins, with now two outs in the inning, were unable to plate the potential winning run from third.

3. Henry Davis, too, saved this game defensively. With a runner on third and two outs, Davis successfully blocked a pitch in the dirt. It wasn't a difficult play, but it wasn't easy either. Most major league catchers would have blocked that pitch too. But in the case of Davis, we've heard the media give their two cents all spring about whether Davis was ready to be an everyday catcher. "He only caught two innings all of last year ... The Pirates were ruining him by putting him in right field all last year." Blah, blah, blah. If Davis doesn't block that pitch and the winning run scores from third, the narrative would have been very different. But he blocked the pitch. The winning run did not score. And Henry Davis looks like a major league catcher. Take that, yinz naysayers.

4. Josh Bell got on base his first four times up. He threw two runners out at home. He was set up to be the hero of this game for the Marlins, except he wasn't. When it counted most, Jose Hernandez induced him to ground out to third stranding the potential tying run at third in the bottom of the 12th. The two assists at home plate aside, Bell remains a well-below-average fielder. Earlier in the game, he failed to make picks on errant throws by his fielders. In one instance, he came out smelling like a rose when the errant throw he didn't pick, came bouncing right back to him off the grandstand wall and allowed him to throw out Henry Davis at the plate. I hated when the Pirates traded Bell. And as has been pointed out by others in this fine publication before, the Bell trade looks very bad these days. And until the 12th inning, Bell seemed to be rubbing salt in that wound with his fine day at the plate.

5. Walks kill. Keller gave up two walks in this game and both times those walks turned into runs. A key at bat early in the game was Jazz Chisholm Jr.'s lead off walk to start the second inning. It was a nine-pitch plate appearance that resulted in the walk. In this day and age of pitch counts, an at bat like that is very deflating to the pitcher who loses the battle and the defenders who sit idle while the battle ensues. That there happened to be a Pirates error two batters later, I think ,is not a coincidence.

6. Gotta love that Jose Hernandez got the save. Until yesterday morning, he was slated to be pitching in Indianapolis. But thanks to a paternity leave for Roansy Contreras, Hernandez was brought to Miami to open the season on the big league roster. Some of the roster moves the Pirates made at the end of the spring were curious. I thought Hernandez had pitched well enough this spring to make the roster. So, I was somewhat surprised when someone named Ryder Ryan made the team and Jose Hernandez did not. And if to prove my point that Hernandez and not Ryder Ryan deserved to be on that roster, the Pirates called on Jose Hernandez to close out the win today and not Ryder Ryan. Roster decisions these days are sometimes made not on merit, but based on who is unlucky enough to still be eligible to be optioned to the minors.

7. The Pirates hit three home runs. I know a certain writer who has been banging the drum all spring that those Spring Training home runs the Pirates were hitting didn't look like a fluke but something that might be sustainable. Three home runs in the opener looks like a great start.

The Pirates are 1-0 and in first place. The magic number is now 161. For Pirates fans the appropriate response is: "First place baby. The media pundits didn't see this coming. They all got it wrong. We're going to the World Series. Woo hoo!!"

Let's hope we get to repeat that as well tonight.