Wagner, Clemente lift Bucs in Bracket opener

April 21st, 2020

PITTSBURGH -- Imagine, if you can, a middle of the lineup featuring , , and . Picture, just for a moment, an infield consisting of Stargell, , Wagner and .

That’s the Pirates team that advanced past the D-backs in the first round of MLB’s Dream Bracket, winning the series in six games. Pittsburgh’s all-time team will move on to face Cincinnati, a classic Rust Belt rivalry, after the Reds defeated the Nationals/Expos squad in seven games.

The MLB Dream Bracket is a 32-team best-of-seven simulation featuring all-time teams for each of the 30 current Major League franchises, as well as teams consisting of Negro Leagues Stars and 25 & Under Stars. The 26-man rosters for each of the teams, compiled by the MLB.com beat reporters, consist of 15 hitters and 11 pitchers. For the simulation, players are rated using the average of their three best seasons on a single team. Rosters were constructed with balanced depth to specifically compete in a simulated regulation game.

Wagner led the Pirates' lineup against the D-backs, as “The Flying Dutchman” went 13-for-27 with six RBIs and six runs. Center fielder set the tone atop the lineup by going 10-for-24 with three walks, six steals and 11 runs. Clemente performed at the level you’d expect, batting .393 with a homer and six RBIs. Young Bonds hit three homers, and Stargell led the team with nine RBIs.

Pittsburgh’s pitching was a little less sturdy, but Wilbur Cooper won two games and delivered one of the first round’s best outings in Game 2. Deacon Phillippe, , Sam Leever and combined for 11 scoreless innings coming out of the bullpen.

Let’s look at how it all played out on Out of the Park Baseball 21.

Game 1: Pirates 10, D-backs 6
The Pirates jumped out to a lead when Carey singled, stole second and scored on a double by Wagner, then Bonds launched a two-run homer off Arizona starter Randy Johnson. The D-backs scored six runs against starter , however, but the Bucs' lineup got to the shaky Arizona bullpen late in the game. Pittsburgh scored three runs to take the lead in the seventh thanks to big hits from , Carey, Wagner and Stargell along with a sacrifice fly by Traynor.

Clemente hit a two-run homer in the eighth to provide some breathing room, and Phillippe and Melancon bridged the gap to , who picked up the save.

Game 2: Pirates 7, D-backs 0
Cooper was unstoppable on the mound, firing a four-hit shutout while striking out five and allowing only one walk. It was a classic old-school outing, as he went the distance by throwing 119 pitches, including 75 strikes. Cooper outdueled D-backs starter Curt Schilling, who allowed four runs (three earned) while striking out eight in six innings.

Clemente led the way offensively with three hits and two runs. , Wagner, Traynor and Kendall all recorded two-hit games, and six different players drove in a run for this well-balanced lineup.

Game 3: Pirates 11, D-backs 6
D-backs starter Brandon Webb was a little overmatched in this one, allowing five runs on six hits as he faced the entire Pirates lineup in the first inning. Pittsburgh managed to jump out to that big lead without a home run, and the only extra-base hit in the entire inning was a double by Wagner.

Arizona crawled back into the game to make it interesting, pulling within two with a four-run sixth, but Bonds put the game out of reach with a three-run homer in the eighth. Phillippe and Melancon carried the bullpen again in relief of starter Vern Law, with Melancon working two innings to record the save.

Game 4: D-backs 8, Pirates 1
The Pirates were poised to sweep the series, but Zack Greinke wouldn’t let it happen. Arizona’s starter allowed only six hits, with no walks and four strikeouts, in a complete-game effort. Carey provided Pittsburgh’s only offense with a solo homer in the sixth.

Paul Goldschmidt stepped up for the D-backs' lineup, going 4-for-5 with two RBIs. Pirates starter Babe Adams gave up six runs on 12 hits and three walks in 5 2/3 innings, although his outing began with three scoreless innings. Dave Giusti allowed two more runs in 2 2/3 innings.

Game 5: D-backs 5, Pirates 3
Johnson came back with a vengeance after losing Game 1, striking out 10 in eight innings for the D-backs. Friend gave up four runs in his six innings of work, half of them on homers by Luis Gonzalez and Steve Finley. Tekulve allowed the other run.

The Pirates had a chance to tie it in the ninth, sending to the plate with Bonds on first base, but Byung-Hyun Kim got Kiner to ground into a 5-4-3 double play after Kiner got ahead, 2-0.

Game 6: Pirates 11, D-backs 4
The Pirates apparently had no interest in sending this series to a decisive Game 7, as they pounced on Schilling with five runs in the first two innings. Schilling, decorated postseason performer that he is, couldn’t get out of the second. Meanwhile, Cooper carried the load again by allowing four runs over 8 1/3 innings.

Pittsburgh’s lineup was on a tear from top to bottom. Carey, Stargell, Waner and Kendall all recorded two hits. Clemente added three hits and drove in three runs. Stargell stormed back from a hitless game with a three-run homer off Dan Haren, and Bonds took Schilling deep in the first.

Just like that, they were moving on.