Pirates Win Opening Day Matchup Over Rival Reds 5-4 (1-0)

03/30/2023 – By Ethan Smith – @mvp_EtHaN on Twitter

The start of a new season always comes with a ton of optimism and the Pittsburgh Pirates offered some more juice to the optimism drink with a 5-4 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday.

Oneil Cruz started the scoring for Pittsburgh with a 111.1 mph home run off of Hunter Greene in the top of the third to tie the game at one.

Greene was pumping 100-plus mph fastball’s without breaking a sweat, including a 105 mph fastball against Andrew McCutchen, who also saw a 105 mph pitch against then Cincinnati Red Aroldis Chapman in his previous Pirates tenure.

Greene, a young staple in the Reds rotation, started hot, but once the Pirates became patient his his delivery, trouble would find him. Greene would finish with 83 pitches, 3 1/3 IP, 3 BB, 8 SO, 5 H, 1 ER, but trouble would find reliever Fernando Cruz, who would walk in two runs and allow another via a wild pitch to create a 4-1 Pirates lead.

Mitch Keller was Greene’s opposite and looked relatively good in his first Opening Day start, posting a respectable 4.2 IP, 8 SO, 4 BB, 4 ER and 6 H. Leaving the game tied 4-4 after hitting the century mark on pitches, Keller extended a Pirates streak of starting pitchers not recording an Opening Day victory that dates back to 2016, last done by Francisco Liriano.

In what came as a surprise to me, the bullpen appearances of Dauri Moreta, Rob Zastryzny, Colin Holderman and David Bednar would keep the Reds scoreless after Keller’s departure, leading to an Oneil Cruz sacrifice-fly in the eighth that would score Ji-hwan Bae to come to the final of 5-4.

Ji-hwan Bae impressed in this one, recording two hits, two runs, two stolen bases as well as some nifty work at 2B outside of a rushed error. Andrew McCutchen impressed in his return to Pittsburgh as well, recording three walks and a base hit to his credit.

As a team, in large part to their victory, the Pirates recored nine free passes on the game, showing a willingness to be patient at the plate with Greene’s lack of experience and a lackluster bullpen, giving themselves and other teams a blueprint on how to attack Cincinnati offensively.

This game had a lot, pitch clock violations, walks, blown leads and ultimately a Pirates victory. It’s game one of a long 162 game season, but the Pirates start the campaign on a high note in front of a recording breaking Great American Ballpark crowd.

The Pirates will face the Reds in game two of the series on Saturday with Rich Hill slated to face off with another youthful staple of the Reds rotation, Nick Lodolo.

Ethan Smith Recap Record: 1-0

News & Notes

  • Oneil Cruz 111.1 mph HR in the top of the third for first HR of the season
  • Mitch Keller: 4.2 IP, 8 SO, 4 BB, 4 ER, 6 H(continues streak since 2016 of Pirates starters without a win on Opening Day) / Dauri Moreta: 1.0 IP, 3 SO, 2 BB, 0 ER /
  • Hunter Greene pitch clock violation in the top of the third
  • Hunter Greene clocks a 105 mph pitch
  • Hunter Greene: 83 pitches, 3 1/3 IP, 3 BB, 8 SO, 5 H, 1 ER / Fernando Cruz: 0.1 IP, 3 BB, 1 ER, 2 unearned runs in the top of the fourth
  • Pirates have three run fourth inning
  • Fun fact, McCutchen has now seen the two fastest recorded pitches in MLB history from Aroldis Chapman and Hunter Greene, both at 105 mph
  • Oneil Cruz first leadoff hitter since Nate McLouth on Opening Day to homer since 2008

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: