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Tim Benz: The first game of the Pirates' season seemed to predict what the rest of the season will be like

The response of Pittsburgh Pirates manager Derek Shelton was one of puzzled relief when he was questioned after his team’s tiring 6-5 season-opening victory against the Florida Marlins.

When asked about his team's tiring 6-5 win over the Florida Marlins, Pirates manager Derek Shelton seemed relieved and amused.

Is this what his team should expect for the whole year?

Shelton responded, “Ha! I hope not. If so, we'll take it. I was just happy that we played the whole game.”

The game lasted three hours and 24 minutes, including 12 innings. The Pirates didn't lead until the 12th inning, when Jared Triolo's hit gave them the lead.

Jose Hernandez got his first Major League save after being called up just before the game to replace Roansy Contreras, who went on paternity leave.

Triolo said on Pittsburgh SportsNet after the game, “I don’t think anybody ever thought that we were gonna lose.”

I'm glad he felt that way. But when the Pirates were down 5-2 in the seventh, with a bunch of strikeouts on the box score, I had a different opinion.

Much of what happened on Thursday seemed like it could be a big part of the Pirates' story for the rest of the season.

• They showed power at the plate with three home runs, but also struck out 17 times and had a 2 for 17 record with runners in scoring position.

• The bullpen didn't allow any runs in the last 6⅔ innings, with just one hit, and closer David Bednar didn't even play. But starter Mitch Keller gave up four earned runs and 10 baserunners in 5⅔ innings, with only three strikeouts.

Ke’Bryan Hayes and Connor Joe made some good plays, but Triolo's error led to the first two runs in the game.


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In essence, that's the summary of the whole Pirates preseason.

The team has potential at the plate but will likely have a lot of strikeouts. The fielding at some positions could be great, while at others, it could be poor. The starting lineup is uncertain, but the bullpen is expected to be strong. The Pirates are good enough to compete with any team, but they make enough mistakes to give other teams a chance to beat them.

When asked if the game will repeat 161 more times, Shelton laughed it off. We won't see all those things happen every game.

But they might happen over any given week, homestand, or road trip.

That's why this team will likely have a .500 record. They have enough talent to challenge for the wild-card standings, but they also have enough flaws to resemble the 100 loss teams from 2021 and 2022.

However, if the following 161 outcomes are just as full of surprises and changes as the first one, then this season will be interesting to watch for the next six months at least.

That’s more than we can say for many other Pirates seasons.

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