Walker, McCutchen Lead Pirates To Another Opening Day Win

By Chad Carlson
Walker And McCutchen Led The Pirates In Today’s Victory (AP)
The wait is over Bucco fans!  Today, the Pittsburgh pirates kicked off the 2011 regular season against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. 
Kevin Correia pitched a solid game while Neil Walker and Andrew McCutchen had huge hits for the Buccos down the stretch as the Pirates beat the Cubs this afternoon, 6-3.
After a mediocre spring, Correia was announced as the team’s starter for Opening Day by Clint Hurdle.  He made his skipper look like a genius today, as he held the Cubs in check for most of his time on the mound.
Correia gave up three runs (two earned) on seven hits, while only walking one and striking out three through his six innings of work, while also earning the victory in his first game with the Buccos.
Walker and McCutchen were clearly the hitting stars of the day for the Pirates, who have now won five straight Opening Day ballgames. 
After falling behind 2-0 in the fifth inning, Neil Walker came to the plate with the bases loaded, and hammered a Ryan Dempster pitch out of the bleachers, and into the street, to give the Pirates a 4-2 lead. 
McCutchen followed that up in the seventh inning with a two-run shot of his own, giving the Pirates some breathing room for the latter part of the game. 
Both Walker and McCutchen had two-hit performances, and the two combined to drive in all of the runs for the Pirates this afternoon.  Jose Tabata, Lyle Overbay, and Ryan Doumit also had a hit each.
The bullpen, another question mark for this season, did a very good job against a feisty Cubs’ lineup.  Garrett Olson made his first appearance as a Bucco (only facing two batters), while Jose Veras and Evan Meek each pitched an inning of shutout baseball, while giving up a hit a piece.  Joel Hanrahan earned his first save of the season after striking out a pair of Cubs in the ninth inning.
So the Buccos played a great game today.  While it’s only the first game of the season, it is still important for the Pirates to get off to a good start in 2011.  First of all, Correia pitched a nice game, keeping his team in the ballgame, which is exactly what we need from our starting pitching this season.  Secondly, we got timely and effective hitting from top performers in the lineup (Walker and McCutchen).  And of course, the bullpen came through, holding off the opposition and cementing a victory. 
Winning in professional baseball is difficult, especially for a young team like the Pirates.  These are quality wins we’ll be sure to remember, especially since it’s against an N.L. Central foe and it was a win on the road, something that the Pirates struggled to do mightily a season ago.
The Pirates will take on the Cubs again tomorrow afternoon at 1:05pm.  Paul Maholm will make the start tomorrow as the Buccos hope to continue this early success.
Record Vs. N.L. Central:  1-0
Record On The Road:  1-0
Overall Record:  1-0
As Always…
Let’s Go Bucs!

Chad Carlson

Co-Editor of Fans From The Stands, Pirates' Beat Writer For Armchair Report, Sports writer for AMN, SteelTownRock And Music City Encore Editor

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