After sweeping the Cardinals, the Pirates came into Cincinnati tied atop of the division. The Pirates have notoriously started out the gate pretty weak in recent years, so it was important they did everything they can to start off the season hot. The change of city didn’t stop the results, as the Pirates won behind a beauty of a swing by Starling Marte.
Liriano started the game, but his brilliance from his last game did not carry over. His control wasn’t 100% tonight, and the pitches he normally finds batters chasing were not being swung at. Frankie lasted 5 innings and gave up 3 earned, which was actually quite amazing as he put runners on all night. What was also amazing was seeing Francisco Liriano work a bat. He went 2/2 today with an RBI double, and is not batting .750 on the season.
The Reds broke the scoring early when Joey Votto hit in Eugenio Suarez, which was followed up by a Brandon Phillips homer. From here on, both teams were putting many players on base, but finding a hard time capitalizing and scoring runs. Both, Simon and Liriano found their pitch counts grow rather quickly and lasted just 5 innings. The difference in the game was a late inning meltdown by former Bucco, Ross Ohlendorf. Ohlendorf started the rally by hitting Jaso and then walking McCutchen. David Freese would then single to load the bases. J.J. Hoover would then enter the game and hang a breaking ball to Marte. At that moment is when he knew he messed up. Cincinnati was able to witness a Marte Partay in grand fashion, as he cleared the bases with a majestic grand slam. Marte gave the Pirates a 6-5 lead and they would never look back,
As stated, the pitching was not very effective, but there was some solid glove work by Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer. As a matter of fact, if it were not for the Marte grand slam, you could say that Mercer was the difference maker in this game. Besides saving about 3 runs with his defense alone, he was able to go 2/4 while also drawing a walk. Though its a very short sample, Mercer is following up a solid spring by batting .333 on the season. Though it was not pretty, it was good to see Pittsburgh find a way to pull out the win in this type of game. They will play game 2 tomorrow at 1:10PM. Gerrit Cole will make his 2016 debut vs Raisel Iglesias.