In the scope of 162 games about 152 of those games are unmemorable. Sure, you have those ten or so games that at the end of the season you can really remember off the top of your head and how they made you feel. This one is going to to fall into the category of the 152 that you probably won't remember.
That's not a bad thing, that is just how the season goes. There are a lot of games and when you play every night it takes something specials or spectacular to put it at the forefront of your mind. While the opening day for baseball is the most cherished of all the major sports I just don't think we are going to remember a pair of preseason NL Central bottom feeders at PNC Park when it was snowing an hour before game time.
When the season starts you will hear a lot of people saying that the pitchers are going to be ahead of the hitters. Through my lifetime of watching and playing baseball I will say that a lot of that is true. Hitting is all about timing and getting comfortable and getting a lot of swings to hone your swing. A pitcher gets on the bump and if he can pump strikes then he is going to have a much better chance to succeed to start the season. That is what happened today.
A.J. Burnett and Jeff Samardzija were pretty much at their best today as they combined to strike out 19 hitters and give up only eight hits total. Maybe it was the fact that both of these offenses aren't very good or maybe it was the fact that it was the beginning of the year (probably both) but hits and opportunities were hard to come by.
Burnett only went 5.2 innings and threw 98 pitches but he was very effective (to a degree) striking out ten Cubs hitters. It would have been nice if Burnett could have given the team seven innings of work but when you are striking out a lot of guys you are naturally going to throw a ton of pitches. He made very few mistakes but the one mistake he did make was a first inning fastball that hung in the middle of the plate that went 445 feet off the bat of Anthony Rizzo. His fastball was there as he touched 95 and averaged out at about 93 with his fastball. Not too bad if you ask me. It was a bomb. It also sucks the offense couldn't get anything done and wasted a good performance by the whole staff.
The pen did a really nice job as the trio of Justin Wilson, Jared Hughes, and Mark Melancon combined to go 3.1 innings, not giving up a hit, and struck out five Cubs. Outside of a John McDonald error when Melancon was throwing in the ninth inning.
Offensively things were really, well, boring. Nobody struck out more than once but it was just a lot of uninspiring at bats all day. It has to get better than this. It will get better than this. Despite the team striking out an absurd amount of times last season I doubt the Pirates will strike out ten times a game. I mean they could and that wouldn't surprise me, but whatever. They did make things interesting in the ninth and got the winning run on base with only one out but couldn't get any further than that.
Props where props are due, Samardzija was really good today. I mean he was really good against pretty much the same Pirates lineup last season but he is really starting to position himself as one of the better pitchers in the National League. He averaged almost 95 with his fastball and was as high as 97. That is some serious heat.
All told this was the first game of the season. There are hundreds are more to be played and there are thousands of more at bats to be taken. You could try to go in and try to dissect what happened today but at the end of the day it is a one game sample. The Pirates could come out Wednesday and slap the ball all over the park or it could be the same story. Either way that won't tell us a bunch either. We probably will have to wait a little while to really see how the Pirates are starting offensively and here is to hoping today's results will not be the norm.