2023 Pittsburgh Pirates Week One Recap

Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

2023 Pittsburgh Pirates Week One Recap


2023 Pittsburgh Pirates Week One Recap


The Pirates began its season with a six-game road trip with stops in Cincinnati and Boston. After an opening day win, Pittsburgh dropped the next two in Cincy, leaving the Queen City 1-2. The Bucs then traveled East to Fenway Park for a three-game series with the Red Sox. Pittsburgh impressed both at the plate and on the mound in a sweep of Boston. I break it all below in the first weekly recap for the 2023 season. 

Opening Week Series One: @ Cincinnati Reds

Game 1: Pittsburgh 5, Cincinnati 4

The Pirates turned to Mitch Keller in the opener against Cincy’s Hunter Greene. The Reds loaded the bases in the bottom of the first with nobody out, but Keller was able to escape the jam only allowing one on a Tyler Stephenson double play. The teams would play a scoreless second before Oneil Cruz blasted a no-doubt, 111.1 mph solo home run to tie the game in the third. 

The Pirates would take the lead and more in the fourth. Following a Ji-Hwan Bae double and a few walks, Cincinnati went to its bullpen. Fernando Cruz struggled mightily in relief of Greene. The righthander walked in two runs and allowed another to score on a wild pitch. Keller would allow a Spencer Steer solo home run to cut the lead to 4-2 but responded nicely, punching out the next two hitters. Keller then had a chance to get through five solid innings in his season debut. Unfortunately for the Pirates, Jason Vosler turned on an 0-2, inside fastball and tied the game with a two-RBI triple.

Dauri Moreta would enter in relief and stop the bleeding with a scoreless inning spread out over the fifth and sixth. Rob Zastryzny set down four straight Reds hitters to send the game to the eighth inning tied at four. Bae and Cruz would get the job done in the top of the eight with some assistance from Austin Hedges. Bae walked and stole second before Hedges bunted a pitch that almost hit him in the face to get bae to third. Cruz sent Bae home via a sacrifice fly to give the Pirates the 5-4 lead. Colin Holderman and David Bednar handed the final two innings, handing the Pirates an Opening Day win.

Game 2: Pittsburgh 2, Cincinnati 6

Veteran Rich Hill got the ball in game two of the series against young-talent Nick Lodolo. Pittsburgh struck first in the first inning as Connor Joe ripped an RBI single up the middle in his first at bat of the season to give the Pirates a 1-0 lead. Cruz would reach on a swinging bunt, loading the bases, but Rodolfo Castro would strike out to strand all three runners. 

The Reds wasted no time jumping on Hill as Jonathan India led off the home first with a solo home run. With two outs in the inning, Tyler Stephenson doubled and ex-Pirate Kevin Newman hit a 405-foot home run to give Cincinnati a 3-1 lead. Pittsburgh would get a run back in the third as Cruz singled in Carlos Santana. Castro and Bae would both strikeout following the Cruz single, leaving runners on the corners.

Hill would settle into the game and give the Pirates four solid innings following his rocky first. He ended the afternoon with five innings, three hits, three runs, two walks and seven strikeouts. Nick Lodolo would gut through five innings before handing the ball off to his bullpen which would toss four scoreless innings to end the game. The Reds added on with a Jake Fraley three-run home run off Chase De Jong in the sixth which essentially put the game out of reach. Rule Five selection Jose Hernandez tossed a scoreless inning in the 6-2 loss.

Game 3: Pittsburgh 1, Cincinnati 3

Vince Velasquez made his Pirates debut in the rubber match of the series against Cincinnati’s Graham Ashcraft. The scoring would wait until the second inning to get started for the first time in the series as Vosler launched a solo shot to put the Reds up 1-0. Cincy would add a second run in the bottom of the third thanks to a Tyler Stephenson RBI single. The Pirates would strike back in the fourth with a Bryan Reynolds solo shot to cut the lead to 2-1.

That would be the only offense Pittsburgh would get as Ashcraft turned in a gem. The righthander seven strong innings allowing one run on four hits and one walk while striking out six. Velasquez looked to get through five innings but was chased after a two-out home run by TJ Friedl. The Pirates would threaten in the eighth as Castro and Cruz roped back-to-back singles to leadoff the inning. Reynolds, Andrew McCutchen and Santana would all fail to get a single run home.

A positive takeaway would once again be the Pittsburgh bullpen as Zastryzny, Wil Crowe and Duane Underwood Jr. combined for 3.1 innings, four hits, two walks, three strikeouts and no runs allowed.


Series Two: @ Boston Red Sox

Game 4: Pittsburgh 7, Boston 6

The Pirates opened the series with Boston sending Johan Oviedo to the mound against Cutter Crawford. The scoring was early and often in this one as the teams combined for eight runs in the first inning. Reynolds and Ji Man Choi would each slash one-out singles before Ke’Bryan Hayes finally got into the offensive action, driving in Reynolds. Cannan Smith-Njigba would then add to the Pittsburgh lead with a two-run double of the Green Monster in left field. Oviedo would go to work on the hill with a 3-0 lead.

Boston answered right back as Rafael Devers blasted a one-out homer to center to cut the lead to 3-1. Masataka Yoshida would then club his first MLB home run after Justin Turner reached on an error by Reynolds in center. Adam Duval worked a six-pitch walk before Triston Casa hit the third Boston home run of the inning, giving the Red Sox a 5-3 lead.

The Pirates would not go away, though, as Reynolds slugged his second homer of the season to get Pittsburgh back within one. The road team would get right back to work in the third as Santana walked to leadoff the inning. Hayes would reach on a fielders choice and advance to seconded on a Smith-Njigba groundout. Jack Suwinski would drive Hayes in with an RBI single to tie the game at five. 

Pittsburgh would keep mashing as Jason Delay hit one over the Green Monster to give the Pirates a 6-5 lead. Following a Cruz strikeout, Reynolds would lace his second home run of the game and third in two days. Oviedo settled into the game nicely after allowing five runs in the first. The young righthander would go 3.2 more scoreless innings before being lifted with runners on.

Dauri Moreta would be called upon again by manager Derek Shelton in a big spot. After walking Kike Hernandez to load the bases, Moreta got Connor Wong to strikeout to end the threat. In the sixth, Underwood Jr. would be called upon to get the final out of the inning after Zastryzny could not finish it. After allowing Duvall to single home a run, he fanned Casas to end the inning, preserving the one-run Pirate lead. Colin Holderman and David Bednar were money once again in the backend of the pen and the Pirates got the emotional win.

Game 5: Pittsburgh 4, Boston 1

The middle game of the series saw Pittsburgh’s Roansy Contreras face off against Boston’s Nick Pivetta. The Red Sox were out and scoring early once again as Yoshida notched the RBI ground out. Contreras would get Duvall to pop out to end the inning, beginning his dominance on the mound.

The Pirates would respond right back (which is quickly becoming a common trait of this team) in the top of the second. Ji Hwan Bae launched his first career home run over the Green Monster in left, giving Pittsburgh the 2-1 lead. Bryan Reynolds struck again in the third inning with his fourth homer of the season and fourth in three days. Pittsburgh led 3-1.

Contreras would set down 13 in a row before Reese McGuire doubled with two outs in the fifth innings. That would prove to be no issue for the young arm as he got Yu Change to ground out the following hitter. The righthander would get the first two outs of the sixth before allowing a walk to Turner. Contreras would be lifted after an Oneil Cruz throwing error put runners on the corners.

Shelton would once again turn to Moreta in a big spot and he would deliver striking out a red-hot Adam Duvall to end the inning. The Pirates added on in the seventh as Tyler Heineman singled and stole second before scoring on a Reynolds RBI single. Moreta would find two outs in the seventh before Hernandez came in and got a huge strikeout to end the inning. Holderman and Bednar once again made the eighth and ninth innings look easy as the Pirates clinched the series.

Game 6: Pittsburgh 4, Boston 1

The Pirates would look to its ace, Mitch Keller, to secure the series sweep. Boston would send Corey Kluber to the hill, looking to salvage one of the three games. Despite Pittsburgh leading the bases loaded in the first, both offenses would start quiet for the first time as Keller and Kluber each threw up zeros in the first three frames. Carlos Santana would break the scoreless tie in the fourth wrapping his first homer in a Pittsburgh uniform around Pesky’s Pole in right field. 

Kluber and Keller would continue to cruise through the fifth inning with the score remaining 1-0. Boston manager Alex Cora made the odd decision to go to his bullpen in the sixth despite Kluber being close to dominant with a pitch count of only 67. John Schreiber would relieve the starter and did not find the same success. 

Reynolds led off the sixth with a double before McCutchen’s infield single put runners at the corners. Following a Santana strikeout, Ke’Bryan Hayes laid down a beautiful bunt that not only scored the run, but gave him a bunt single. Suwinski would walk to load the bases but the Pirates could not add on as Castro struck out and Bae lined out to end the inning.

Pittsburgh added a third run as Reynolds’ sacrifice fly brought home Jason Delay. Cruz would head to third on the play but his head collided with Devers’ leg during his slide. Cruz would score on a Santana RBI double but would then leave the game with a facial injury. His status is still pending.

Keller went back out for a seventh inning of work and would find trouble following two quick outs. Triston Casas would be credited with a double off the Monster, even though Reynolds had a good chance to make the grab. Christian Arroyo singled in Casas to cut the lead to 4-1. Raimel Tapia legged out an infield single after Arroyo stole second and Reese McGuire pinch hit for Chang. McGuire thought he had hit a game-tying three-run homer but was ruled foul after a review. Keller then got McGuire to go down looking, ending his brilliant day.

Keller would end the day tossing seven strong innings allowing one run on four hits and two walks, striking out seven. With Holderman and Bednar unavailable Zastryzny and Underwood Jr. locked the eighth and ninth innings down, securing the sweep.


Weekly Awards

Hitter of the Week: Bryan Reynolds – 10 for 24 (.417 avg), 4 HR, 2 2B, 7 RBI, 1.444 OPS

Starter of the Week: Mitch Keller – 2 GS, 1 W, 11.2 IP, 3.86 ERA, 15 K, 6 BB

Reliever of the Week: Dauri Moreta – 3 apps, 2.1 IP, Hold, 0.00 ERA, 5 K, 3 BB, 1 H

Upcoming Schedule

vs Chicago White Sox – April 7-9

vs Houston Astros – April 10-12


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