Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pirates 2016 Opening Day Chill of Victory Liriano Puts Freeze on Cardinals in Pirates' 4-1 Victory

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pirates 2016 Opening Day Chill of Victory Liriano Puts Freeze on Cardinals in Pirates' 4-1 Victory

Article excerpt

The opponent Sunday provided the perfect motivation for the Pirates to try new things. To avoid the wild-card game, they have to get past the St. Louis Cardinals. They haven't been able to for three years, despite how good they've been.

New season, new roles.

Andrew McCutchen will begin the bottom of the first in the on-deck circle, batting second, rather than in the hole on the dugout steps. Tony Watson might not always pitch the eighth inning.

The lineup is built to put runners on base and see what happens, because of the departure of a lot of power from the right side of the infield.

"It's getting those men not just to be unselfish, because I think most of them are unselfish, but to be able to perform in the box and execute and know that there's some at-bats to be given up," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "There's some at-bats to be sacrificed. There's some different things that need to be done to buy into that mentality."

Sunday, the new mingled with the tried-and-true: Francisco Liriano striking out a lot of batters. For one game, a 4-1 victory against the St. Louis Cardinals at PNC Park in the first game of the 2016 season, the formula worked.

"Frankie stayed aggressive and pitched his ballgame, and was well-represented with the defensive plays behind him when they had to be made," Hurdle said.

Major League Baseball scheduled the 2015 playoff teams for the season's first games and paired the Pirates and Cardinals, who rank first and second in wins in the past three seasons and faced each other in the 2013 National League Division Series.

The weather replicated October, too.

Saturday afternoon, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny looked out of PNC Park's visiting dugout at a chilly but sunny field and mused about the vagaries of spring weather in the Midwest. The Cardinals once opened on a 94-degree day in St. …

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