Congratulations to the Pirates for winning two of three games in the season-opening series in Chicago.
Unexpectedly excellent starting pitching highlighted all three games, as Kevin Correia, Paul Maholm and Ross Ohlendorf all pitched masterfully.
The Bucs also displayed timely hitting and aggressive baserunning, particularly yesterday, when Neil Walker raced home from second on an infield hit by Pedro Alvarez. It was a bang-bang play, but Walker made it happen. Walker also deftly turned a nifty double play to end the game on another close play. If he hadn't pivoted nimbly and fired a quick, strong and accurate throw to nip the runner at first base, the tying run would have scored from third. The runner was on third base only because on the previous play, Ronny Cedeno had misfired a throw to second. A close game, but it went the Pirates way.
Fact is, the Pirates could have -- should have -- won the second game of the series, too, had the bullpen not blown a 3-0 lead in the eighth inning. It won't be the last time this season the bullpen blows a lead, and we are sure to see plenty more defensive miscues, too.
On the plus side, the starting pitching certainly was encouraging, the hitters seemed more patient, and the baserunning was perceptibly more aggressive, but not out of control.
So far, we like what we see of Clint Hurdle's managerial style and how he has handled the pitching staff and lineup. A good start.
On to St. Louis.