Well, your 2023 Pittsburgh Pirates are undefeated. The Buccos got an Opening Day homer from Oneil Cruz and some scoreless work out of the bullpen after a mixed bag start by Mitch Keller to down the Cincinnati Reds 5-4 on opening day.
Cruz went deep in the third for his first dinger of the year, and he also drove in another run on a sacrifice fly in the eighth on a short swing to give the Buccos the lead for good in a back and forth game.
ONEIL CRUZ WITH A MISSILE pic.twitter.com/2trL2QDETr— Dillard Barnhart (@BarnHasSpoken2) March 30, 2023
Manager Derek Shelton said this about Cruz following the game:
“He doesn’t have to take full swings at times. I think we can see that as strong as he is, as big as he is, the commitment to just shortening up and putting the ball in play. That’s hard to do for a guy who’s six-foot-seven with really long arms. But to be able to see that today was really impressive.”
Mitch Keller got the start — his first on Opening Day — and he went four and two-thirds innings, giving up four runs on six hits with four walks and eight strikeouts. He didn’t have amazing control but had the sinker working for those Ks.
The Bucs had the bullpen going strong after that, however, with Dauri Moreta, Rob Zastryzny, Colin Holderman and David Bednar combining to give up just two hits and no runs the rest of the way, with Bednar earning his first save of the year.
Other Pirates notables were Andrew McCutchen went 1-for-2 with three walks and an RBI in his first game back with the Bucs, while Ji Hwan Bae went 2-for-3 with two stolen bases and two runs scored, including the game winner on Cruz’s sacrfice after Bae’s second steal of the day.
The Bucs are now 1-0 on the year and are off today but will back in action on Saturday.