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4/8 From 1985: Kiner's Klaws; Opener Blues; TV Time; A-Ram Afire; Starling Granny; Big Date For Pitching; Rally Time

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  • 1989 - The Pirates, who at the time were on national TV about as often as taxes get cut, not only were booked for seven outings on NBC during the season, but their game today against the Cubs at Wrigley was the season opener for the network. Alas, the Bucs struggled getting out of the gate this campaign, dropping five of their first six games, including this one, a 5-3 loss to the Cubbies. The lower half of the order (Glenn Wilson, Rafe Belliard and Neal Heaton) rang up four of the Pirates five hits and scored/drove home all three runs. Heaton took the defeat and former Bucco Mike Bielecki claimed the victory. 
  • 1997 – The Pirates quieted the Padres 2-0 behind Steve Cooke, Rich Loiselle‚ and John Ericks. They teamed up to toss a one-hitter, a single off Cooke by Steve Finley. Tony Womack was the Buc batting hero, driving in a pair of eighth-inning runs with a double to beat Sean Bergman at Qualcomm Stadium. Ericks was a swingman who was injured later in the season and never pitched afterward. 
  • 2001 – The Pirates whipped the Astros 9-3 at Enron Field behind the smokin’ bat of 3B Aramis Ramirez, who slammed three HRs and drove in six runs. Joe Beimel was the winning pitcher, lasting just long enough to toss five innings before Billy Taylor and Jose Silva put the game to bed. 
  • 2002 – Lloyd McClendon’s Pirates earned a 1-0 victory against the Reds in their home opener. Ron Villone, Mike Fetters, and Mike Williams combined on a four-hit shutout, running the Bucs season winning streak to five and breaking a nine-game home opener losing streak. The run was set up by Reds pitcher Elmer Dessens. With Brian Giles on second base, Dessens balked. Giles was awarded third base and scored on Aramis Ramirez’s sacrifice fly. 
Kiner’s Mitts – photo Pittsburgh Murals
  • 2003 – The Bucs honored Hall of Fame slugger Ralph Kiner by unveiling a commemorative sculpture at their home opener. The bronze artwork is a bit oddball, showing just Kiner’s hands gripping a Louisville Slugger bat. It’s in the left field rotunda near the Willie Stargell statue. He was honored in pre-game ceremonies and tossed out the first pitch, but the Buccos weren’t in a celebratory mood. Kip Wells walked seven, the fielding was brutal, and except for a late three-run homer by Jason Kendall to make it look close, the Brewers had no problems with Pittsburgh, winning 5-3. To boot, only 24,000+ showed up on a chilly, gray day after the original opener had been pushed back due to bad weather. 
  • 2011 – The Bucs outlasted the Rockies 5-4 in a 14-inning, 5-hour, 11-minute overnighter when Jose Tabata doubled with two outs off Franklin Morales to score Josh Rodriguez. Rockies’ manager Jim Tracy decided to work on JT rather than walk him, even though Pirates pitcher Garrett Olson was on deck and the Bucs didn’t have any position players left to pinch-hit. The wily Clint Hurdle had Andrew McCutchen swinging in the on-deck circle (he was the leadoff hitter) and some suspect a con job was being pulled on Tracy. Still, the bullpen was the story of the game – six pitchers tossed 11-1/3 frames of six-hit shutout ball as starter Ross Ohlendorf only lasted three innings after giving up a three-run bomb to Jason Giambi in the opening round. The game was played in front of 29,192 at PNC Park; most had hit the gates for home before Tabata’s walk-off and had to read about the dramatic finish in the morning paper. 
  • 2012 – Down 4-1 to the Phillies in the seventh at PNC Park, the Bucs found their two-out mojo. The Bucs scored twice in the seventh with two away, tied it in the eighth on Matt Hague’s first MLB hit, a two-out knock, and won in the ninth on Cutch’s drive to center over Shane Victorino’s head with two gone, his third hit. Casey McGehee was the glue man, coming in late to go 2-for-2 with a pair of doubles, driving in one score and later touching home with the winning run. 
  • 2016 – Trailing 5-2 in the eighth frame with two away and the bases empty, the Bucs parlayed a walk, hit batter and infield single into a game-winning inning. Starling Marte followed the small ball by banging JJ Hoover’s hung slider into the stands for his first MLB grand slam to rally the Bucs to a 6-5 win over the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park. Neftali Feliz and Mark Melancon shut the door after that to give Ryan Vogelsong his first win as a Pirate since 2005 against the Cards. 
Jamo – 2018 photo Joe Guzy/Pirates
  • 2018 – Jameson Taillon tossed the first complete game of his young career, and it was a dandy one-hit shutout at PNC Park to defeat the Cincinnati Reds 5-0. He walked two, bopped one and whiffed seven while tossing 110 pitches. Only one Redleg reached second base, and that was due to defensive indifference with two down in the ninth. JT even drove in the game’s first run with two outs in the second before homers by Gregory Polanco and Corey Dickerson in the fifth frame gave him some breathing room. It was the Pirates first complete game since Ivan Nova’s in April of 2017 and the first one-hitter since AJ Burnett fired one in 2012. Ironically, the only hit he surrendered was to mound opponent Tyler Mahle in the third when Mahle rolled a fastball into center. 
  • 2019 – The Pirates were thumped 10-0 by the Cubs at Wrigley Field, highlighted by an error-filled second inning that tallied six unearned Cubbie runs. It was the third Home Opener of the year for Pittsburgh and their third loss – the Reds had beaten them 5-3 in the season Opener at GABP and the Cards spoiled the PNC Opener 6-5. But once they got those bright-light games out of the way, they were otherwise fine on the field, putting together a 5-1 record on normal dates.


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