April 6, 1979: Pirates Drop Opener to Expos

The 1979 Pirates opened their season at Three Rivers Stadium in a 12:35 pm start against the Montreal Expos.  The game could have gone better, as sloppy play (five errors and two runners picked off), and a 1-for-7 showing with runners in scoring position, left the Bucs with a 3-2 loss in ten innings.

For the record, the Bucs’ opening day lineup was:

1.  Frank Taveras, SS
2.  Omar Moreno, CF
3.  Dave Parker, RF
4.  Willie Stargell, 1B
5.  Bill Robinson, LF
6.  Rennie Stennett, 2B
7.  Ed Ott, C
8.  Phil Garner, 3B
9.  Bert Blyleven, P

Bert Blyleven had a good start for the Pirates, allowing five hits and two walks over seven innings.  The Expos got to him only in the fifth, when Gary Carter led off with a home run and Andre Dawson singled in another run with two outs.

The Pirates, meanwhile, had little success with Steve Rogers despite nine hits over eight innings.  They missed a chance right off the bat, when a first inning single by Frank Taveras, a steal and a bunt by Omar Moreno gave them a runner on third with one out.  Dave Parker and Willie Stargell, though, both struck out.  Other chances evaporated when Moreno and pinch running specialist Matt Alexander both got picked off.

Ed Ott got the Pirates on the board with the team’s first dinger of the season in the bottom of the fifth.  The score stayed 2-1 into the bottom of the eighth, with a scoreless inning by Enrique Romo.  Making his Bucs’ debut, Romo got through the eighth despite a pair of walks.

The Bucs tied it in the bottom of the eighth.  Phil Garner led off with a double and got to third on a grounder.  John Milner failed to get him in, but Moreno came through with a two-out single.

The sloppy play came out in full force in the tenth.  With Kent Tekulve pitching his second inning, Dawson reached on a hit batsman.  Teke picked him off, but an error by Stargell put Dawson on second.  Teke got the next two hitters, but with two out an error by Dale Berra, who’d come in to play third as part of a host of substitutions, committed an error to let in the go-ahead run.

The Pirates managed only a two-out catcher’s interference against Elias Sosa in the bottom half, leaving the tally 3-2.  Taveras, Moreno, Stargell and Ott each had two hits.