(Photo: Gene J. Puskar, Associated Press)
The Pirates return to PNC Park for their home opener Monday afternoon and they will face a red-hot opponent.
The Detroit Tigers have opened the season 6-0 -- their best start since 1985 -- after three-game sweeps of the Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians. Furthermore, the Tigers scored 47 runs and pounded out 78 hits.
“I’ll put it in perspective. It’s the first week of the season and I’m not ready to throw any parties,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said Sunday after an 8-5 victory at Cleveland.
Indeed, there are 25 weeks and 156 games left in a season that stretches all the way to Oct. 4.
That is why Pirates manager Clint Hurdle didn’t panic after his team lost its first four games before winning consecutive games over the Brewers at Milwaukee over the weekend to improve to 2-4.
“I don’t know if we’ve ever gotten out of the blocks quickly since I’ve been here,” said Hurdle, in his fifth season with the Pirates, prior to Sunday’s 10-2 win at Milwaukee. “We have a lot of baseball left to play.”
Gerrit Cole (0-0, 5.40) will start for the Pirates against fellow right-hander Anibal Sanchez (1-0, 0.00). Game time is 1:35.
Cole had a no-decision in his first start of the season Wednesday at Cincinnati, giving up three runs and five hits in five innings with six strikeouts and two walks. He has never faced the Tigers.
Sanchez pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings to beat the Twins on Wednesday, allowing three hits while striking out six and walking two. He is 2-4 with a 3.16 ERA against the Pirates in six career starts.
Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen and second baseman Neil Walker will receive their 2014 National League Silver Slugger Awards, emblematic of being the best offensive player in the league at their position, in a pre-game ceremony.
Pittsburgh native Chris Jamison, who was a finalist on The Voice, an NBC talent show, will sing the national anthem.
This marks the first time the Pirates will open at home against an American League team in the franchise's 133-year history.