On Thursday, Major League Baseball presented “Opening Day at Home” -- a full slate of 30 games broadcast nationally across various platforms including networks, digital streaming and social media, creating a full-day event on what would have been Opening Day. The experience is intended to invite fans to feel a sense of community and unity on a day many were looking forward to while underscoring the importance of staying home to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Using the hashtag #OpeningDayAtHome, fans can connect with each other while watching their team’s selected game at a set time. The Pirates got things started with Pittsburgh’s most memorable game in a generation: the Bucs' 2013 National League Wild Card Game victory over the Reds at PNC Park.
“Opening Day at Home” also will be an opportunity for MLB to raise awareness for several worthy charities that are helping provide relief to the most vulnerable communities impacted by the pandemic. Last week, MLB and the MLBPA made a $1 million joint donation to Feeding America and Meals on Wheels, in addition to a $30 million commitment made by MLB clubs to emergency relief for ballpark employees. If so willing and able, fans can contribute toward these charities, MLB official charity Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and additional causes at MLB.com/give.
Officially, the Pirates’ selection is known as the 2013 NL Wild Card Game. You might remember it as the “Cue-to” game, the PNC Park blackout -- all in all, postseason baseball in Pittsburgh for the first time in 21 years. The Bucs’ 6-2 win over the Reds was euphoric, cathartic and unforgettable for anyone who watched it.
The Pirates, led by manager Clint Hurdle and NL MVP Award winner Andrew McCutchen, snapped the franchise’s streak of 20 consecutive years with a losing record in 2013. But their 94-68 campaign wasn’t enough to win the NL Central, so they hosted their division foe Cincinnati in the win-or-go-home Wild Card Game.
Pittsburgh sent lefty Francisco Liriano, one of pitching coach Ray Searage’s reclamation-project success stories, to the mound against Reds ace Johnny Cueto. The sold-out crowd of 40,487, mostly wearing black at the players’ recommendation, was waiting for a moment to release its pent-up energy. It came in the second inning.
Marlon Byrd ripped a homer to left off Cueto, prompting that memorable chant from Pittsburgh fans. As he prepared to face catcher Russell Martin, Cueto dropped the ball -- and the crowd went wild, rattling Cueto, just before Martin launched another homer to give the Bucs a 2-0 lead.
“That Cueto moment,” Martin said last year, “I’ll never forget that.”
The Pirates cruised from there. Liriano allowed only one run on four hits and a walk over seven innings. Pittsburgh native Neil Walker hit an RBI double in the fourth, and Martin sealed the deal with his second homer of the night in the seventh inning.
Afterward, players reveled in the clubhouse and raved about the impact that fans had on the game. Walker reminisced about the city’s long wait for a night like Oct. 1, 2013, and he promised that victory was only the beginning.
The Pirates advanced to the NL Division Series to face the Central champion Cardinals and took the series to a decisive fifth game at Busch Stadium, but the Bucs were shut down by St. Louis ace Adam Wainwright. Pittsburgh returned to the postseason each of the next two years, but lost in the Wild Card Game, first to Madison Bumgarner and the Giants then to Jake Arrieta and the Cubs.
But the Pirates gave Pittsburgh a taste of postseason success in 2013, and now fans have another opportunity to relive that magical night.
This week, MLB unlocked its expansive vault and is offering fans special access to the most unforgettable moments. MLB has made the entire 2018 and 2019 game archives free to all fans through MLB.TV. Fans can also access more than 200 full classic MLB games on YouTube including timeless World Series games, memorable postseason matchups, no-hitters and perfect games.