Pirates Fans Pack the House, Pirates Bats Pack the Scoreboard Winning 13-9 in the Home Opener (5-2)

4-7-23 – By Gary Morgan – @garymo2007 on Twitter

Where do I begin?

Photo Courtesy of @PiratesDieHard (Nick) on Twitter

No seriously, how do I begin to describe everything I saw and felt today at PNC Park? No matter what, this was never going to be about one player’s performance, or the outcome on this one day, it was always going to be about this team, this ballpark, this city and the way they all fit together into one incredible thing that only Baseball can create.

It was Andrew McCutchen’s return to the city that loves him, almost as much as he loves it.

This was the return of the leader we all didn’t even know we wanted as Batman, AKA AJ Burnett returned to throw the first pitch to Russel Martin.

Before I get into this story too deep, let’s take a look at some sights and sounds from, well, many of you.

Yeah, Bucco fans everywhere, loving life long before they knew the outcome.

OK, so lots of pictures. Can’t even promise I’m done I have hundreds now.

But let’s get into what this game was.

Rich Hill was just never sharp in this game. He’d wind up surrendering 8 hits and 7 runs, but the story today was the Pirates offense. Because I’m telling you, it never felt for even five seconds that the Pirates were even in danger of losing this game. The bats brought thunder and just did a number on the already depleted pitching staff of the visiting White Sox.

Oneil Cruz was patient, Bryan Reynolds (pay him now btw) was just punishing, 3 for 5, 6 RBI, a 3 run shot, a bases clearing triple that he scored on due to an error. Connor Joe, Jason Delay, Andrew McCutchen, Carlos Santana, Ji Hwan Bae, pick a player, and they had multiple hits or at least drew walks to get on multiple times.

Well, everyone but Jack Suwinski, who went 0-5 with 4 strikeouts.

The White Sox scored 9 runs in this one so you’d think immediately, the pitching was hot garbage, but really folks, most of this was on Hill. The bullpen was really strong after that and even Wil Crowe who gave up 2 runs, was trying to push through his 3rd inning to close out the contest.

Obviously this isn’t a recipe for winning a ton of games, but the chemistry of this team right now, well it just feels like when one thing doesn’t work, the other side will pick it up.

They’ve now won 4 straight, and I don’t wanna get you excited, but Lucas Giolito was probably the best White Sox starter we’ll see this series, and their bullpen is already into AAA depth.

The series continues tomorrow night and the way they’re playing, you might not have to wait ’til after the game or fireworks.

News & Notes

  • Connor Joe was phenomenal today. Not just good, phenomenal. 4 for 5 with a pair of doubles. He was on every pitch, taking everything that missed. He’s locked in. Maybe lets stop questioning why he’s getting playing time.
  • Rich Hill was brutal today. I’m not gonna lie, he’s going to have outings like this on occasion, but he’s never going to do anything different. Sometimes it’ll work, sometimes it won’t. Still, he’s not going to provide all that much resistance to being replaced when and if one of the AAA arms is ready. Funny thing is, if he keeps pitching like this, there’s a greater chance he’s here all year.
  • Not to harp, but Rich Hill and the long ball are an early story. His game is weak contact, and he’s not achieving that in any way shape or form. Time will tell.
  • Have to admit, I’ve not agreed with several Derek Shelton decisions in the early going here, and to his credit, he’s been resoundingly right in every single one of them.
  • Can’t believe how many of you recognized me and stopped by to say hi. Yark, James, Josh, Tina, Josh again, Thomas, Seth, Austin, Jennifer, Graves, Craig, Jim, and I’m sure I’m missing a few of you, many of you have been on this journey with us since we started this little site way back in 2020, and it’s become such a nice and growing family of Bucco fans. You’re all awesome people, and I’m glad to be finally writing about good baseball.
  • 5-2 is 5-2, it’s not a playoff berth. It doesn’t mean anything more than this team most of us expected to maybe win 70, 74, 79 games if a whole lot went right, has started out the gate winning. Now, if you want some hope, I don’t even think they’re playing as good as they can. The starting pitching has been spotty, bullpen has really been sparkling, bats have been getting the job done, really since they left Cincy, but they have room to be better.
  • Wow, is Jack Suwinski struggling. It’s not just striking out, it’s scarcely looking like he has an earthly idea that a pitch might be coming. Look, he’s a great kid, and I am nowhere near pulling the plug on him, it’s just too early, but let’s say he continues like this for a couple weeks and Travis Swaggerty keeps doing what he is in AAA, well, don’t be shocked.
  • Ji Hwan Bae has now done enough to show the team has to continue to give him at bats. He’s played just about every minute of every game at this point, and with good reason, he’s been noticeable in most appearances, outside a real bad outing against Nick Lodolo.
  • That’s great and all, but what to do about Castro. He does have wonderful power potential, but he’s not getting a lot of at bats, and when he does, he’s either hitting right handed which he already is better at, or sporadic left handed opportunities. I’m not sure he’s going to learn here. I’m also not sure they have another option at 3B, or short really.
  • Andrew McCutchen returning today is one of the most improbable local sports stories I’ve ever lived through. Mario returning from cancer. Mario returning from retirement. Mario rescuing the franchise. The ping pong ball that brought us Sidney Crosby. Incredible story, an emotional awakening for a fan base that has suffered far more than it has celebrated.
  • Bryan Reynolds has started this season absolutely on fire. 5 homeruns already in 7 games mind you, 16 RBI, I mean we’re talking player of the week stuff here folks. There is nothing the Pirates can do here, but to finalize this extension, even if they have to give the damn option right when his agent wants it. Renegotiate it in the offseason to see if you can do away with it by adding dollars, whatever. This is a miss they can’t afford with the fan base as engaged as they are, unless they don’t want them to stay that way.

Published by Gary Morgan

Former contributor for Inside the Pirates an SI Team Channel

6 thoughts on “Pirates Fans Pack the House, Pirates Bats Pack the Scoreboard Winning 13-9 in the Home Opener (5-2)

  1. If Jack continues to struggle why not use Bae as starting CF and let Castro play 2B that way everyone that’s playing well gets quality ABs.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. then send him down and let Bae and swaggerty split CF if both can continue to play well – – its an all-around upgrade plus lets ya figure out exactly what each can do , plus play the hot hand , reward the productive player(s)

        Liked by 1 person

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