For the second consecutive game, the fans who braved the frigid temperatures of PNC Park were rewarded with an excellent pitching performance by the Pittsburgh Pirates. While A.J. Burnett wasn’t able to receive any run support for his 10-strikeout performance, the Pirates were able to scrape together three runs to give Wandy Rodriguez and the Pirates their first win of the year.
“It was great to get it out of the way,” Catcher Russell Martin said. “Now it’s on to tomorrow’s game.”
Prior to the game, Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle was asked about Rodriguez’s history of success in April throughout his career. Hurdle responded by saying that Rodriguez’s preparation for the World Baseball Classic could help him out even more.
If tonight was any indication, he was right on.
“His fastball had a lot of life; a lot of late life and a great pace,” Hurdle said. “He stayed aggressive, worked fast, threw the strikes and the breaking ball was a good pitch for him again tonight.”
Rodriguez was able to hold the Cubs at bay for the majority of the night. Rodriguez allowed just two hits and struck out six over six and two-thirds shutout innings. Rodriguez was able to pitch his way out of a bases loaded 7th inning as he struck out Brent Lillibridge on a 3-2 curve before Tony Watson got Alberto Gonzalez to fly out to center.
Hurdle, as he did much of last season, decided to use the southpaw Watson against a right-handed batter.
“I didn’t have him [Tony] running the count to 3-0 when I waved for him to come in,” Hurdle joked. “That one caught me a little off-guard. Tony’s been good for us and has pitched in tight situations. It’s not the way you draw it up for the first outing of the year. We’ve seen it before. Our guys did the job that needed to be done tonight.”
The Pirates offense broke through in the fourth inning as Andrew McCutchen drove in Garett Jones with an RBI double. Starlin Castro, one of the best shortstops in game, committed an error with Gaby Sanchez at the dish that allowed McCutchen to cross the plate. A Starling Marte RBI single following a Clint Barmes leadoff double extended the lead to three runs.
“McCutchen finds a way to drive in guys against the Cubs,” Hurdle said. “It’s one of the teams that he’s showed up pretty good against in his brief career. It was a tough night to square balls up. We were at least able to make something happen when we were on base.”
The Cubs new $52 million man, Edwin Jackson, struggled at times in his Chicago debut, but much like Burnett on Monday, he was unable to get any help from his offense.
The Pirates (1-1) and Cubs (1-1) will wrap up their opening series tomorrow at 12:35 as James McDonald (0-0, 0.00 ERA) will oppose the Cubs’ Travis Wood (0-0, 0.00 ERA).
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