Game 7: Rockies (3-1) @ Pirates (4-2)

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

I don’t listen to sports talk radio all that often (for reasons I’m not going to go into right now), but I did make it a point to turn on a local sports talk station on my way to PNC Park this morning. Why? I really wanted to get a pulse on this city’s reaction to the start of this 2011 Pirates  team. I have been curious as to how much the Pirates’ 4-2 start (on the road, nonetheless) has energized Pittsburgh for the upcoming season.

In short, I think it has. Through emails I’ve received and comments I heard from callers this morning, there seems to be at least some renewed hope that this franchise is moving in the right direction. Starting off with a pair of road series wins has boosted optimism; but more than anything, I think fans appreciate having a club whose main pieces will be here for a while. There is relief in knowing that Andrew McCutchen, Pedro Alvarez, Neil Walker and Jose Tabata aren’t going anywhere — there is finally a talented core to build around.

I sense that today could be an exciting afternoon at PNC Park. The outcome of the game will obviously positively or negatively affect the atmosphere, but the fact that people can come to the game with legitimate hope and higher expectations is something not seen in a home opener in years.

It will be interesting to see how the club reacts to a sellout crowd energized for a summer of baseball in Pittsburgh.

Some news and notes:

  • Chris Snyder is beginning a rehab assignment with Single-A Bradenton tonight. The Pirates haven’t said how long the rehab assignment will last, but Snyder does need to make up for a lot of missed at-bats this spring.
  • Brad Lincoln is going to have a rehab start with Bradenton on Saturday. This will be Lincoln’s first game since being hit on the right arm with a line drive.
  • Joining Snyder and Lincoln with the Marauders will be lefty Joe Beimel, who was added to the Bradenton roster. Because Beimel has still not been added to the 40-man roster, meaning that he was assigned to the High-A club just like any Minor Leaguer would be. He is expected to make his first appearance on Friday.
  • The consecutive road series wins for Pittsburgh is something the club hadn’t accomplished since 2007.
  • There have been two uniform number changes. Jose Veras will now be wearing No. 43. Bench coach Jeff Banister takes No. 17.
  • Colorado has changed its rotation order due to an injury to Ubaldo Jimenez. The Pirates will face Esmil Rogers today before seeing Jorge De La Rosa, Greg Reynolds and Jhoulys Chacin in the final three games of the series. De La Rosa will be the first lefty starter the Pirates have faced all season (insert cheer from Matt Diaz here).
  • If you’re looking for some morning reading, let me give you two links to consider. In an effort to focus some of the home opener attention on something other than the players, here is a story on how players’ wives/fiancees prepare for the upcoming season. I don’t think people have any idea what families of ballplayers go through during the grind of a 162-game season. Yes, they enjoy cushy financial stability. But it’s hardly all glitz and glam. I hope this story gives you a better idea of the lives behind the scenes.
  • The second story highlights three long-time season ticket holders with unbelievable streaks of attending Pirates home openers. That story is here.

Lineups:

PIRATES: J. Tabata (LF), N. Walker (2B), A. McCutchen (CF), L. Overbay (1B), P. Alvarez (3B), R. Doumit (C), G. Jones (RF), R. Cedeno (SS), P. Maholm (LHP)

ROCKIES: D. Fowler (CF), R. Spilborghs (RF), C. Gonzalez (LF), T. Tulowitzki (SS), J. Lopez (2B), T. Helton (1B), T. Wigginton (3B), C. Iannetta (C), E. Rogers (RHP)

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

1 Comment

2 road series wins in 2 series. This is great ar they only won 4 road series last year going 17-64 on the road. Do I think the Bucs will win 90+ games? Not this year, as the pitching is still suspect. I’ll be delighted with a record of 72-90.

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