At 40 years old, Jeff Conine is showing he still can lead a team to victory.
Acquired in December to platoon at first base, Conine hit a three-run homer and tripled on a frigid Friday night, leading Cincinnati to a 6-1 victory and ending Pittsburgh’s 3-0 start. Conine, who turns 41 on June 26, also had a game-tying, pinch-hit single and scored the go-ahead run in a 5-2 win over the Cubs on Thursday.
“We were getting quick innings, so we weren’t doing a lot of standing around,” said Conine, whose ears and nose were red from the cold after the game. It was 36 degrees with windy conditions for the first pitch and there also were snow flurries throughout the night.
This game was originally scheduled for a 7:10 start, but was moved up to 1:05 due to a continued cold and windy forecast.
Harang (1-0, 0.00 ERA) will try to build off a solid opening-day start for Cincinnati (3-1). He gave up one unearned run over seven innings - the longest outing by a Reds opening-day starter since Jose Rijo 14 years ago - to beat the revamped Chicago Cubs 5-1.
“I was out there ready to go. Once I got that first strike, I started feeling pretty confident in myself,” said Harang, who went 5-5 with a 4.32 ERA in 12 day starts last year, and 7-4 with a 4.61 ERA in 18 starts overall at home.
Harang, who had a career-best 16 wins in 2006, went 3-1 with a 3.97 ERA in five starts versus the Pirates last season.
Ronny Paulino’s RBI single in the first inning was all the offense the Pirates could muster in Friday’s series opener. Starter Paul Maholm allowed four runs and seven hits over five innings in his season debut.
“Conine’s hit hurt badly,” Pirates manager Tracy said, “especially on a night like tonight where obviously offense was gonna be at a premium for you. The weather got colder as the night wore on.”
Armas was 9-12 with a 5.03 ERA in 30 starts with Washington last season. The right-hander had his best outing against Cincinnati on May 9, when he gave up a run and two hits over six innings of a 7-1 victory.
Reigning NL batting champion Freddy Sanchez could be activated from the disabled list before this game. The Pirates third baseman, who suffered a sprained knee ligament on March 6, batted .344 last season and had a career-high 200 hits.