Pirates win season opener

Cautious optimism mixed with a sense of pessimistic defeatism. That might be the way that I would describe my attitude toward the Pirates as the 2007 season begins. I want them to do well and I think they have a lot of important pieces in place for a successful season. That said, I think this is the way most fans feel about the Pirates at the beginning of every season. So, while I’m optimistic, I have to stay somewhat guarded in my optimism so I’m not too disappointed if things don’t work out as I hope they will.

When I first checked the score of yesterday’s season opener, it was the top of the 8th inning and the Pirates had just scored their first run. This brought the score to Astros: 2; Pirates: 1. My first reaction was happiness that Zach Duke had held his own against Roy Oswalt, who is notoriously stingy when it comes to allowing hits and runs. However, I also had a sense of resignation that the Pirates weren’t going to win. I got involved in other things and by the time I checked the score again, the game was over and the Pirates had won – in extra innings, no less!

Zach Duke kept the Pirates in the game, allowing 2 runs on 8 hits over 7 innings, walking one and striking out none. He was followed by Bayliss, Marte and Capps, who combined to allow a single hit and no walks over 2 innings of relief. Interestingly, over 9 innings, these 4 pitchers didn’t strike out a single Houston batter. The lone strikeout by the Pirates came in the 10th from Salomon Torres, who didn’t allow a single hit or walk during his one inning of work.

The Pirates were held to no runs on 3 hits and one walk during the first 7 innings.  However, the Pirates’ bats came alive in the 8th, with a pinch-hit home run off the bat of Nate McLouth. In the 9th, Xavier Nady evened the score with another solo home run. Capps kept the Astros from scoring in the bottom of the 9th, sending the game into extra innings. After Jack Wilson’s 2nd single of the game, Jason Bay put the game away for the Pirates with a 2-run blast – the 3rd Pirates home run of the game. Then, Torres came in to record his first save of the season. At the end of the game, the Pirates had scored 4 runs on 9 hits and 2 walks.  The Astros scored 2 runs on 9 hits and 1 walk.  Interestingly, due to their late-inning homer-fest, the Pirates find themselves tied for the league lead in home runs with the Atlanta Braves.

I think this win is huge for the Pirates. Last season, the Pirates lost 6 games before they won their first. So, starting this season with a win sets a much more optimistic tone for the season. Obviously, it is too early to proclaim that this is the season that will see the Pirates break their string of losing seasons. However, the 2007 campaign is off to a promising start.

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April 2007

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