Baseball is back and in full swing after the Pirates defeated the Cincinnati Reds in their opening day contest from Great American Ball Park. The 5-4 contest that ended with a David Bednar save had several notable moments as Pittsburgh starts the season undefeated. With more to come and look forward to as the Pirates season is officially underway, here are three things that stood out from 2023’s opening day game.
Mitch Keller looked rough
Lets get the bad out of the way first, as the Pirates with a winning record is certainly nothing to complain about. However, when your starting pitcher gets pulled after just four innings on Opening Day, that leaves a bad feeling in any fans stomach. The Pirates offense showed in spring ball that they may not be producing a whole lot offensively, and having to play from behind is not going to bode well for this team. Having a starting pitcher with jitters because it’s Opening Day is not a recipe for success in any contest.
Through four innings, Keller allowed six hits which resulted in four runs early on. He also walked four batters on top of that. He did record eight strikeouts with a nasty sinker, but let’s be realistic in knowing that his performance was below average.
Keller is still at this point in time lacking the control and poise you want out of a quality starting pitcher. Quinn Priester, I am awaiting your promotion.
Oneil Cruz is very good at baseball
Remember in Spongebob when Squidward is trying to buy a pie only to be told that they were bombs? Well Oneil Cruz may have been built in a bomb factory himself, because there is nothing but explosive results when he gets a hold of a baseball.
Cruz opened it up for the Buccos with an absolute moon shot in the third inning, leaving fans and players in awe of what he can do when he gets a hold of a baseball.
The 6’7” shortstop is literally Pittsburgh’s biggest attraction and he showed why as that dinger put the Pirates up indefinitely in a close game. Ji Hwan Bae would score the game sealing run after a sacrifice fly from Cruz. The power was on full display, but some of the fine tuned batting mechanics and plate discipline are starting to shine through as well, and a full season of Oneil Cruz is going to be really exciting.
Andrew McCutchen is back and looking great
Ending on a positive note we have to talk about everyone’s favorite moment from opening day, as the long awaited return of Andrew McCutchen to Pittsburgh has finally been satisfied. ‘Cutch was going to be a huge draw for fans this season, regardless of how well he does, but he actually played really well in the opener at DH.
McCutchen went 1-for-2 at the plate with an RBI, and three walks. The control he had whilst in the batters box, and waiting for his pitch is the kind of veteran presence we should expect to see from McCutchen this season. While certainly not his most memorable performance, it’s just a great feeling seeing our guy back in black and gold.
Baseball being back meant McCutchen coming back, and you have to believe that the home opener in his return to PNC Park as a Pirate is going to be absolutely electric. Still maintaining that he’s not chasing nostalgia but wins, ‘Cutch accomplished that in his first game back.
Andrew McCutchen reached base safely in all four plate appearances today. Since 1980, he’s the 11th Pirates player to reach base safely 4 times on Opening Day and the first since Adam Frazier on April 1, 2021 at Cubs. After the game he spoke with Robby Incmikoski. pic.twitter.com/jRVcJdNwyF— AT&T SportsNet™ PIT (@ATTSportsNetPIT) March 31, 2023
It’s only one game. We have to keep telling ourselves it’s only one game, but there is no better feeling than opening up the season with an undefeated record, and seeing the Pittsburgh Pirates back in action. What are some of your favorite moments from Opening Day?