The Pittsburgh Pirates started Thursday with a lot of confidence. The team signed third base prospect Ke’Bryan Hayes to an eight-year, $70 million agreement before the season opener.
The day went downhill once we got to the Hayes extension, unfortunately. For their 2022 season opener, the Pittsburgh Pirates were swept by the St. Louis Cardinals, 9-0, at Busch Stadium.
The Pittsburgh Pirates’ fortunes quickly deteriorated. After the first inning, they were already behind, and things never improved. There was also a significant scare that occurred.
A Bad Attitude is Established in the First Inning.
The Pirates were unable to get a hit off Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright in the top of the first inning. A terrifying situation then arose in the bottom of the inning for the Pirates.
On the field, Derek Shelton and the training staff gave Hayes a thorough examination before he was taken out of the game. The news concerning Hayes caused an instant collective gasp from Pirates supporters everywhere.
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Fortunately, it seems like Hayes will only have to deal with a small issue, since sources indicate that it was merely a cramping issue.
The Red Birds scored first in the bottom of the first inning, which also led to Hayes being removed from the game. Hayes almost made an amazing play on a weakly hit pop up by Dylan Carlson, allowing Carlson to reach on a bloop double to shallow left field to start the game.
Then, Hoy Park, the second baseman, messed up a ground ball that could have resulted in a double play and should have resulted in at least one out. A 1-0 deficit after the first inning was not entirely due to starter JT Brubaker’s performance.
The Home Run by Tyler O’Neill was the Biggest Hit of the Game.
Brubaker gave up 4 runs on 4 hits, 3 walks, and 2 strikeouts in 3 innings during his first career Opening Day start. This was not the ideal beginning, but Brubaker almost got away with it. We have previously discussed the fact that he did not deserve full blame for the run he gave up in the first inning.
As late as the bottom of the second inning, he came close to getting out of trouble. Brubaker was about to get out of a jam with two out and two runners on base when Cardinal outfielder Tyler O’Neill hit a home out, scoring three runs, off of a 0-1 fastball from Brubaker.
This was the game-changing play that put the Cardinals ahead by four goals. Even though the Pirates’ season came apart in the bottom of the eighth, the score might have been 1-0 or 2-0 going into that inning if not for O’Neill’s homer. The Pirates might still be in the game if the inning was handled differently because of it.
The Bullpen’s Last Word
When Brubaker left the game, Wil Crowe came in as the first reliever. Crowe, who has always shown more promise as a reliever than a starter, had a good effort, allowing 0 runs on zero hits while striking out three Cardinals in two innings of work.
Duane Underwood Jr. was up next. Underwood Jr. left the game because of an injury after he gave up a double to open the sixth inning. The inherited runner eventually scored, but Heath Hembree was able to escape the inning unscathed.
Underwood Jr.’s injury was not looking good, but the prognosis is still unknown. It would not be shocking if the Pirates had to make a roster adjustment because of the righty’s injury. Chris Stratton threw a perfect seventh inning before giving way to lefty Aaron Fletcher in the eighth.
Fletcher gave up a solo home run to Tommy Edman, struck Carlson in the foot, gave up a single to Paul Goldschmidt, and gave up a sacrifice fly to O’Neill after retiring the first batter of the inning. Not long after O’Neill drove in five runs for his team, Nolan Arenado hit a two-run homer off Fletcher to put the Rockies up 9-0.
Besides Fletcher, the bullpen had a very good outing. With the exception of Fletcher, the Pirates’ relievers threw a scoreless fourth inning, allowing just one hit and striking out three. However, Fletcher felt that this particular Opening Day was one to be forgotten.
Kevin Newman’s Had a Rough Day.
There are several ways in which Kevin Newman was destined to fail. There isn’t a single Pirates fan who would rather see Newman start at short than Oneil Cruz. Although Newman has been one of the worst hitters in baseball over the previous two seasons, Cruz is widely considered to be one of the game’s best up-and-coming stars.
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The fury of the Pirates’ supporters towards Newman grew by the end of Thursday’s game, despite the fact that Newman had collected a base hit earlier in the day. In the second inning, Newman was caught attempting to steal second.
In the third inning, he made an error on a routine ground ball. In the fourth inning, with runners on first and second and one out, he hit into a double play that ended the game.
It’s likely that Pirates’ fans will remain frustrated with Newman as long as he has trouble finding success. The clamour to elevate Cruz to the majors to replace Newman will only increase as a result.