(BaseballStL) -- If you had to guess which MLB team Shelby Miller hates most, the Pittsburgh Pirates would serve as a pretty good answer.
Last season, Pirates hitters batted .319 against the rookie while giving up 15 runs. And Miller’s first game in 2014 didn’t get much better.
Leading off the bottom of the second, Cardinal killer Pedro Alvarez went yard off the 23-year-old pitcher. Alvarez hit 5 home runs with 11 RBIs against the Cardinals in 2013, including the five games of the NLDS.
Alvarez would send another over the wall in the fourth and just three batters later, Miller would give up another solo shot to first baseman Travis Ishikawa.
“I thought Shelby’s stuff was pretty good, but just not as sharp,” said Manager Mike Matheny, “[Pirates] didn’t miss a lot of those that got too much of the plate.”
“When he needed to make a good quality pitch with his fastball, which is his bread and butter, it wasn’t there for him.”
The Cardinals offense left 6 runners on base through four innings before Matt Carpenter put the Cardinals on the board with his own homerun blast, also scoring Miller. But those were the only runs the offense could manage Friday night as the Pirates starter, Gerrit Cole, and the rest of bullpen were able to stifle the Cardinals bats. Pirates pitchers were able to hold the Cardinals to 2 runs on 6 hits with 4 strikeouts and 8 left on base.
“Carp did a nice job getting us back into it with a homer,” Matheny said, “but [we] just couldn’t get the big one again.”
Only trailing the Bucs by a run, the wheels came off in the bottom of the sixth. The Pirates were able to score 3 runs on 4 hits and an error. Russell Martin singled to center resulting in a close play at the plate, but a nifty slide from Alvarez put the Pirates up 4-2. Yadier Molina then tried to catch Martin leaning towards home plate, but instead hit Martin in the back allowing him to score. The Pirates would score once more before Cole grounded into a 4-6-3 double play.
After adding another run in the seventh, the Bucs continued to threaten with the bases loaded, but Seth Maness snagged a line drive from Neil Walker and doubled Martin off first to end the inning, but it would not end the scoring spree for the Buccos.
In his first action of the season, Keith Butler gave up 6 runs on 5 hits, to give the Pirates a 12-2 lead in the eighth.
“Butler had a rough one today,” Matheny added, “It’s just not how you want any of our guys to have to start the season.”
Joe Kelly looks to even the series for the Birds as he battles Francisco Liriano Saturday. Liriano posted a 3-0 record against the Cards last season with a miniscule 0.75 ERA.