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Phillies Vs. Pirates: Opening Day Begins Tough Early-Season Schedule

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The Pirates face Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee in their first two games this season.

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The Pirates kick off their 2012 season at PNC Park with a matchup against the Phillies Thursday afternoon at 1:35.

More: Pirates vs. Phillies Game Thread

Roy Halladay will face new acquisition Erik Bedard, thus beginning a brutal early-season schedule for the Pirates. They face Halladay, then Cliff Lee on Saturday, then Vance Worley on Sunday, then go on the road for a tough West Coast swing that includes series against the Dodgers, Giants and Diamondbacks, before heading back to Pittsburgh to face the Cardinals and Rockies.

David Todd and I discussed the Pirates' schedule Tuesday night in a new episode of the Bucs Dugout Podcast. The danger here is that the Pirates flounder against the Phillies and other tough early-season competition and finish April 10 or so games below .500. If they can avoid that, they'll have a decent chance of keeping their heads above water for a while.

If you're heading to the game on Thursday, the Post-Gazette lists new features at PNC Park this year, including a new bar in right field.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.