Pittsburgh Pirates Streak Snapped
By Tom Smith
Hammond Stadium. Fort Myers. A little hike from Bradenton.
The good news for the Pittsburgh Pirates? The starting pitching remained strong. Jeff Locke, James McDonald and Kyle McPherson have given up just one hit in their seven innings pitched thus far.
The bad news? The streak is snapped. The Bucs are now 2-1 in Grapefruit League play.
More good news for the Buccos? The big bats of the Twins did the damage, not any of the former Bucs sluggers like Jeff Clement, Ryan Doumit, Eric Fryer, etc..
It was the big Justin Morneau who did most of the damage on a sun splashed day in Fort Myers. Morneau cleared the bags with a double to the wall in sun splashed left center field off Jeanmar Gomez. By the time that the bases were juiced Gomez had already looked spent. Ray Searage made a trip to the mound prior to Morneau stepping to the plate. It was a long conversation, but the results weren’t spectacular. We could hear Hurdle talking with his coaches and the bench throughout the game.
It appeared that the agreement was the coaching staff was going to try and let Gomez get out of his self made jam. We would guess that Gomez had pitched over 30 pitches. Gomez went right after Morneau and the Twins first basemen made him pay.
Racing home for the Twins were Jamey Carroll, who singled, Joe Mauer and Josh Willingham, who were both walked by Gomez.
The Bucs brought in the hard throwing Brooks Brown (sat 94 on his fastball, touched 95 on stadium gun) and Brown allowed Morneau to score on a sharp single up the middle by Brian Dozier.
Kyle McPherson pitched two scoreless innings for the Pirates
Kyle McPherson pitched two scoreless innings pushing the scoreless streak for Pirates starters to seven innings. Damn, why couldn’t all this pitching happen in April? McFear threw nothing but strikes in the first inning and went right after hitters again in the second inning. The double black belt right hander got Morneau to line into a double play in the second inning on a nice snag by Garrett Jones.
The Pirates got the first two runs of the game with offense from some familar faces in early season Grapefruit League play. Andy Hernandez who has been making some plays early in camp started off the third with a single and scored on a sacrifice fly by Travis Snider..
Felix Pie stayed hot and ripped a two-out single for the Bucs second run of the game off righy Casey Fien.
The Bucs scored again in the fifth, when Snider brought home another run with his second sacrifice fly of the game.
Jose Tabata keeps doing good things at the plate early in Grapefruit League play and when he stepped to the plate in the seventh it continued. Joe tied the game with a bomb over the left center field fence off Esmerling Vazquez. God it would suck to have a name like Esmerling.
But the tie game was short lived and in the eighth inning, Chris Colabello doubled the winning run (Brandon Boggs) home off southpaw Kris Johnson. The ball was just short of a diving Pittsburgh Pirates centerfielder.
The save went to Pedro Hernandez. He got it with the help of poor execution late in the game by the Buccos.
Hurdle encouraged his team late to “get some baserunners and start hitting doubles.” When the Bucs did get a baserunner, Darren Ford–perhaps the hottest hitter early in spring training squared to bunt.
He fouled it off. And then he tried again. Strike two. Guess what happened next? A sparkling 5-4-3 double play on a nice pick by hot Twins prospect Mark Sobolewski.
Even top prospect Gregory Polanco couldn’t help as he flied out to shallow left field late in the game.
The dream of an undefeated Grapefruit League season is gone. Gone. Just like that.
We will get some pictures up later.
Tony Sanchez got his first hit of the spring. Musta been our post on his awesome defense.
Wandy gets the start tomorrow at McKechnie.