We're just not use to the Pirates management seemingly doing the right thing. And I know it's early but it's given me a feeling so far that they are doing the right things. It continued Opening Day when they honored Pirate hero and fan favorite Steve Blass. During the same pre-game festivities Nate McLouth was awarded the Center Field Gold Glove Award. The ceremonies culminated with the honoring of the Pittsburgh Police Officers killed in the line of duty with a chilling playing of Amazing Grace by Pittsburgh's Finest on bagpipes during which both teams sported PPD ball caps. All an all it was a brilliant gesture towards the departed.
The game started off with the Pirates, still dawning the Police ball caps, scoring early in the first off a Ryan Doumit single that scored Freddy Sanchez who was on base because of a double. Zack Duke showed flashes of brilliance early and often as he put away the Astros one after another thanks to help from a much improved defense behind him. In the third inning the Bucs really got it going when Freddy hit his second double of the game to start the inning. He scored when the next batter McLouth singled. Adam LaRoche homered two batters later to run the score to 4-0. Moss took the next at bat and singled to right off the Clemente wall. The next to Pirate batters walked to load up the bases. Duke hit a grounder to short stop who could only throw home to get the force out. Then Nyjer Morgan singled to score Vazquez and Wilson scored. The Pirates left the inning 6-0 and the rest of the game was the Zack Duke show. He shut down the Astros with dominant pitching allowing only four hits the whole game. Ryan Doumit homered in the bottom of the 8th to run the score to 7-0 and then Duke finished off the gem by finishing the 9th to earn a complete game shutout. The Pirates final score 7-0. Raise the Jolly Roger! The Bucs are now 4-3 and look as good as they ever have in the last 17 seasons.
To make a bold, still excited about baseball, April prediction I'm going to say the Pirates go 84-78 this season and finish third in the division. Either way they've had a great start with quality hitting and pitching. Go Bucs!