Pirates win series 2-1.
Monday: Pirates 1 Cubs 0 (10 innings)
Wednesday: Pirates 4 Cubs 3 (16 innings)
Thursday: Cubs 3 Pirates 2
35 innings of baseball were played in this 3-game series to open up the 2014 Season. The Pirates won the first two games in extra innings and the Cubs took game three in the standard 9-innings to avoid being swept by the Buccos.
Pirates 1, Cubs 0
W: B. Morris (1-0), L: C. Villanueva (0-1)
Opening Day festivities included an on-field ceremony where the Pirates welcomed back the team’s former N.L. Most Valuable Players–Dick Groat and Barry Bonds–to present Andrew McCutchen with his 2013 MVP award. Pirates two-time N.L. Manager-of-the-Year Jim Leyland presented Clint Hurdle his 2013 Manager-of-the-Year award. And former Louisville Silver Slugger award winner Jack Wilson presented Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez with their 2013 Silver Slugger awards.
More from Opening Day: A professional parachute team, “Fastrax”, landed at PNC Park to deliver the American flag and the Jolly Roger. The Pirates and Cubs took part in player introductions followed by the National Anthem performed by Petrina McCutchen, mother of center fielder Andrew McCutchen. The Pirates are 3-0 when Petrina McCutchen sings the national anthem. Scott Kiner, son of Pirates Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
As for the game, Bonifacio went 4 for 5 for Chicago, but the Cubs were 0 for 11 with runners in scoring position and wasted a fine start by Samardzija.
Travis Ishikawa had two of the six hits by Pittsburgh. Starter Francisco Liriano was sharp when he needed to be and Pittsburgh’s bullpen did the rest.
Pittsburgh’s hometown hero, Neil Walker, put an end to the game with a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 10th inning. The largest regular season crowd in PNC Park’s 14-season history (39,833) roared its approval.
Pirates 4, Cubs 3
W: Pimentel (1-0) L: Villanueva (0-2)
Wednesday’s game was one for the books. With the game lasting 5 hours and 55 minutes, it became the longest Pirates home game in Pittsburgh’s 128-year history.
Taking his walk up song quite literally, Tony Sanchez “Let it Go” when he was called upon to pinch-hit in the bottom of the 16th inning. His RBI, game winning single gave the Pirates back-to-back walk-off wins.
Reliever Carlos Villanueva (0-2) took the loss once again after also giving up second baseman Neil Walker‘s game-winning homer in Monday’s opener. Pirates’ starter Charlie Morton allowed four hits in six innings with six strikeouts and one walk in his first start of the season. Cubs’ starter Edwin Jackson gave up just two runs — one earned — and two hits in 5 1/3 innings but issued four walks while striking out five. Both starters got a no decision. Rookie reliever Stolmy Pimentel (1-0) pitched four scoreless extra innings for his first major league victory.
The Cubs left 19 runners on base and the Pirates stranded 15.
Cubs 3, Pirates 2
W: Hammel (1-0) L: Rodríguez, W (0-1)
SV: Strop (1)
It was a game of firsts for the Cubs. Manager Rick Renteria earned his first win, Mike Olt hit his first Major League home run, and Jason Hammel earned his first victory as a Cub.
Jason Hammel held the Pirates to two hits over 6 2/3 innings, striking out five. Emilio Bonifacio continued his dominant performance as he led off the game with a single; he later doubled, stole second and scored two of the three Cub runs.
The Pirates made it interesting in the seventh as Hammel walked Neil Walker. Pinch-hitter Gaby Sanchez doubled off James Russell and Tony Sanchez singled to drive in both runners and make the score 3-2. Pedro Strop picked up the save but not before colliding with John Baker on a popup by Gaby Sanchez in the ninth.
These teams will meet again next week (April 8-10) for a 3-game series in Chicago.