Despite out, Lambo chalks up at-bat as a win
Pinch-hitter battles for 13 pitches to lead off 8th; McCutchen later homered
CINCINNATI -- The Pirates' Andrews got the Bucs even briefly, but very dramatically, in Monday's Opening Day spectacular with the Reds in front of a record crowd (43,633) at Great American Ball Park.
Andrew Lambo first jabbed Reds reliever Kevin Gregg -- 13 times to be precise, his pinch-hit at-bat of that many pitches including eight two-strike fouls.
Andrew McCutchen then landed the haymaker -- or at least tiemaker -- with a two-run homer with two outs in the eighth that crafted a 2-2 deadlock. Then Todd Frazier got in the last word, with his three-run blow in the bottom of the inning that gave Cincinnati the 5-2 win.
"[Gregg] threw everything he had at him -- hard, soft, in and out, up and down -- and [Lambo] battled," said manager Clint Hurdle, whose last-day decision to add the youngster to his bench paid immediate dividends. "He was driving the ball well ... really a professional at-bat."
"Absolutely, I feel like I won that at-bat," said Lambo, who ended it by driving Gregg's 13th pitch deep to center, where it was caught by Billy Hamilton. "Everybody is trying to feed off each other, trying to have good quality at-bats and pass the torch to somebody else."
Lambo appeared to be a goner early in the sequence, when he lifted a foul just behind the plate. Catcher Devin Mesoraco trailed the ball as if sure of having a play ... but it kept carrying, into the seats.
Did that close call suggest to Lambo that something good might happen?
"I don't know," he smiled, unable to recall any specific foul. "I fouled about 20 off, not really looking where they were going. Just trying to put a good swing on a fastball and get the boys going a little bit. I thought I got it [on the drive to center], but guess I didn't."
"I got ahead of him and was able to throw some pitches in, and some pitches away in the dirt," Gregg said. "He fouled off a good fastball down and away also. It was one of those battle at-bats for me. I finally got him out."
"And then Cutch had that beautiful swing to right-center," Lambo said. "I know I won it right there."