Wandy Rodriguez hopes to duplicate his start from a year ago when the Pittsburgh Pirates continue a season-opening three-game series with the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park.
Rodriguez was just 2-2 in five April starts a year ago, but allowed only six earned runs in 31 1/3 innings. For his career the first month has always been his best, as he has pitched to a 2.95 ERA in 33 April starts.
"I wasn't even aware of that, but that sounds good," said Pirates shortstop Clint Barmes. "It's very important that you get off to a good start, it's definitely what we need to do, and it's not surprising at all out of Wandy. He's got very good stuff, and when he's on, he's tough to handle."
The 34-year-old left-hander, who was acquired by the Pirates from Houston last July, may be in store for another strong beginning if the World Baseball Classic is any indication. Rodriguez made two starts for the Dominican Republic and was 1-0 with a 0.96 ERA.
Chicago, meanwhile, will unveil one of its few offseason additions on Wednesday when righty Edwin Jackson takes the hill.
Jackson, who will be pitching for his eighth big league team, made 31 starts last season with the Washington Nationals, going 10-11 with a 4.03 earned run average for the Nationals.
Chicago wouldn't mind Jackson pitching the way Jeff Samardzija did in Monday's opener. The former Notre Dame football standout tossed eight scoreless innings and Anthony Rizzo hit a two-run home run to power the Cubs to a 3-1 win.
"It's my first Opening Day ... and to get the win is good to get off on the right note," Rizzo said.
Samardzija (1-0) struck out nine and walked one while serving up only two hits, and Kyuji Fujikawa recorded the final out of the contest to earn his first career save.
"The last two times we've seen him, he's been a beast out there," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said of Samardzija. "He's had command of everything out of his hand."
Andrew McCutchen scored the lone run for the Pirates, while A.J. Burnett (0-1) allowed six hits and three runs in 5 2/3 frames. He also struck out 10 and walked one in defeat.
Chicago split 16 meetings with the Pirates a year ago.