The Pirates especially showed a lack of hitting, waiting until the fifth inning to get a runner in scoring position at second base. Francisco Liriano pitched a stellar game for the Pirates, racking up 10 strikeouts for a franchise record on opening day. However, the Pirates just couldn’t get anything going on the bases.
The Cubs’ starter Jeff Samardzjia did throw a decent game, allowing only five hits and going longer than Liriano through seven shutout innings. Both teams got some good defensive help with double plays to end innings and infield shifts to stop possible scoring hits up the middle. Whether it was bad offense, good defense or both, the pitchers’ duel took opening day 2014 into extra innings in Pittsburgh and gave the locals a great baseball memory.
In the bottom of the 10th inning, hometown hero Neil Walker stepped up to the plate and clobbered a solo homer into right field. Walker knew it was gone, trotted down to first after a confident flip of the bat and raised his hands in the air saluting to his native fans. It was a great moment to start off the season for the Pirates.
It’s always amazing to have a walk-off homer on opening day, but the story following this game inside the clubhouse will have to be how the Pirates, coming off their first winning season since 1993, failed to put up a crooked number against the ever-ailing Cubbies. Andrew McCutchen showed some signs of last year’s power and Starling Marte looked good with a few solid at-bats, but the Pirates will have to step up their game on the offensive end if they hope to put together another winning season in Steel City.