Gregory Polanco, Mel Rojas, Jr Power Pirates Over Yankees
By Tom Smith
With one out in the first inning, Gregory Polanco stepped into the batters box for his first Spring Training at-bat of the 2014 season. It didn’t take long for him to show everyone that his performance this winter was not a fluke. Polanco tore into a 1-1 pitch and did what everyone has been waiting for–he took Yankees fifth starter candidate David Phelps deep.
Charlie Morton did what #ElectricStuff always does. Two scoreless innings, one walk, one strikeout. It took eleven pitches and he chalked up three groundball outs.
Jeff Locke looked nice for the first outing. A lot of soft contact against the heart of the Yankees order. The lone hit was a bouncer over his head that Michael Martinez charged, but didn’t pick up with his bare hand, but gloved it and promptly threw into the camera well.
Nothing was hurt though. Andrew Lambo flashed some leather and fancy footwork to get Derek Jeter. The play certainly saved a sure error on Josh Harrison who airmailed the throw to first.
In the fifth inning, Brandon Cumpton was rocked in his first five pitches he allowed a hard single and then a liner to center field by Kelly Johnson over the head of Gregory Polanco to tie the game.
With runners on the corner, Cumpton got off the ropes when he served up one of his patented groundballs for a 4-6-3 double play to end the threat.
Jaff Decker had a hustling double to lead off the sixth. Decker would score to give the Pirates a 2-1 lead on a Chris Dickerson bloop single.
A two-out error on ( ahem ) third baseman Matt Hague eventually lead to the Yankees tying the game. Cumpton had trouble putting hitters away and appeared to be squeezed despite Chris Stewarts best framing efforts. After a single in the hole plated a Yankees run (and Cumpton had thrown 34 pitches,) Clint Hurdle came out and removed the right hander from the game.
Lefty Nate Baker came in to get the final out on his fourth pitch. A two hopper to Alen Hanson was fielded cleanly and tossed to first baseman Chris McGuiness.
Yao-Hsun Yang touched 93 during his inning of work. The southpaw started off with a strikeout of minor league HR super power. Yang followed that with a walk and then left handed hitting Ramon Flores stepped in. Yang started him soft and got strike one. On the next pitch a groundball to Matt Hague was turned into an around the horn double play to end the seventh inning.
The Bucs broke open the game in the eighth inning by getting a leadoff walk from Robert Andino. Chris McGuiness just kept on hitting (he has yet to make an out this spring,) followed with a single.
Then Mel Rojas, Jr hit an absolute bomb for a three-run shot that gave the Bucs a 5-2 lead.
Alen Hanson followed with a bloop single. Later with the bases loaded, Matt Hague sat on a fastball and delivered a hard hit two-run single flipping the Pirates order and giving the visitors a 7-2 lead.
Daniel Schlereth took the hill in the eighth for the Bucs. The left hander lowered his arm slot and is trying to make the club out of the bullpen. A flyball was served up to Rojas for the first out. Hague booted another easy grounder.
With two on and left-handed hitting Mabon Joseph in the box, Schlereth induced a groundball to first base that McGuiness turned into a slick double play and Schlereth took the relay throw from Hanson. We didn’t see the radar gun on MLB.TV get above 90 which seemed surprising for the southpaw.
Another former Yankee came in to close out the ninth as sidwinder Cody Eppley took 15 pitches to finish off the Bronx Bombers for an 8-2 Pirates win. The Bucs are 2-0 in Grapefruit League play.