The Pittsburgh Pirates were getting solid starting pitching since they rolled into Bradenton. The starters were even on a bit of a streak until today when James McDonald was roughed up a bit, but the Pirates simply pulled out the lumber and outhit the Baltimore Orioles. Again.
The teams came out slugging, but it was the Pirates who would keep up the pace and pull out their first spring victory in what seems like forever.
Slugging shortstop J.J. Hardy took JMac deep in the first inning for a solo homer that ended the Pirates starters’ streak of ten consecutive scoreless games. JMac bounced back and struckout two O’s to end the inning.
The Pirates battled back in the top of the second against hard throwing Jake Arrieta. Neil Walker, Garrett Jones, and Pedro Alvarez had singles. Pedro sliced his to the opposite field. Clint Barmes hit a ball to the gap for his sixth hit of the spring, a two-run double.
Mike McKenry looked bad chasing a fastball down in the zone for the first Pirates out of the inning. JMac looked at a called third strike for the second out of the inning. But with two outs Alex Presley hit an RBI single, which plated both Alvarez and Barmes. Unfortunately Presley was gunned down trying to stretch it into a double.
Mark Reynolds hit a two-out bomb off JMac to left to make it 4-2 Buccos. And then the McDonalds drive thru opened as Nolan Reimold doubled, Robert Andino walked, Endy Chavez had a single to right, and JJ Hardy singled making it 4-4 before McDonald could finally get the last out.
In the third inning, the O’s added another run as McDonald walked Adam Jones, Nick Johnson doubled and Jones would score on a Mark Reynolds groundout to second baseman Walker.
McDonald’s line on the day was 3 innings pitched, six hits allowed, five earned runs, two walks and two strikeouts. He also allowed the two bombs. The Pirates relievers came on and slammed the door on the O’s offense allowing no hits until the ninth inning. It all started with Tim Wood who pitched a scoreless fourth inning for the Bucs.
With Jim Johnson pitching for the O’s in the fifth inning, Alex Presley led off for the Bucs with a line drive single to center. Jose Tabata went down swinging and Presley stole second base, his first steal of the spring. McCutchen was brushed back from the plate and followed with a sharp single to center to plate Presley.
Neil Walker singled to right, and Garrett Jones followed with a double to right, scoring Cutch and putting runners on second and third with one out for Pedro Alvarez. El Toro chopped at a high pitch for a sacrifice fly to plate Walker.
Joel Hanrahan worked the bottom of the fifth. He gave up a lead off walk to Nick Markakis, but got Matt Weiters ( who is now batting .118) to fly out. Hanranator then struck out Adam Jones and Nick Johnson.
Evan Meek had a great outing. Evan Meek had a great outing. Evan Meek had a great outing. Three up and three down. (Deep breath. Exhale.)
Meek got Mark Reynolds on a lineout back to the mound. A groundout by Nolan Reimold and a strikeout of Robert Andino.
With one away in the seventh and Willie Eyre on the mound for the Orioles, Starling Marte got the Pirates going with a line drive single to right field. Yamaico Navarro reached on an error moving Marte to second. The speedy Marte swiped third and then scored when Reynolds forgot to catch the ball at third.
Matt Hague followed with another single and after Nick Evans was called out on strikes, Josh Harrison tripled. Navarro and Hague would score. The Bucs would make it 11-5 when Eric Fryer singled to plate Harrison.
Jason Grilli had a scoreless inning. He issued only a walk to JJ Hardy, and struckout Cory Aldridge.
Jared Hughes got three whiffs, walked one, and gave up the sole hit the Orioles had after the third inning. But Hughes would get a double play ball to cap his strong eighth and ninth inning.