Philadelphia Phillies 6, Pittsburgh Pirates 3

Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

The Pittsburgh Pirates are now 18-9-1 in Grapefruit League play

Sunday afternoon, the Pittsburgh Pirates traveled to Clearwater to play the Philadelphia Phillies. The Pirates wound up on the short end of the stick as the Phillies were victorious by a score of 6-3. With the loss, the Pirates are now 18-9-1 in Grapefruit League play.

There were not many regulars for the Pittsburgh Pirates in the lineup on Sunday. Out of their starting nine, only four (Jordy Mercer, Josh Bell, David Freese, and John Jaso) are locks to be on the Opening Day roster.

Josh Lindblom started for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Unfortunately for Lindblom and the Bucs, he got crushed. In 1 2/3 innings pitched Lindblom allowed five runs on eight hits, a walk, and two home runs.

While the Pirates said Lindblom was competing for a spot in the bullpen, in reality, he never had a chance. Look for him to open the season at Triple-A, probably in the Indians’ starting rotation.

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Wade LeBlanc would follow Lindblom. LeBlanc is entrenched in the battle for one of the two open spots in the Pirate bullpen. And on Sunday, he took a big step toward potentially securing a spot.

In 3 1/3 innings pitched LeBlanc allowed two hits, he did not walk a batter, and he struck out two. He also inherited a bases-loaded jam in the second inning that he got out of without allowing any of the inherited runners to score. Additionally, one of the hits he allowed was on a ball that clanked off the glove of right fielder John Jaso.

Most likely, LeBlanc is one of the two front-runners for one of the final two spots in the Pirate bullpen. The other front-runner, despite an abysmal spring, is Jared Hughes. Hughes pitched a scoreless sixth inning.

This came despite Hughes allowing a pair of hits, including an Odubel Herrera double. However, on Herrera’s double left fielder Jose Osuna gave up on the ball and quit running after it. Hughes was able to induce a double-play ball in the inning. This gave Hughes a scoreless inning in back-to-back games which was good to see with how horrible he has been this spring.

In the seventh inning, another pitcher competing for a bullpen took over on the mound. This pitcher was A.J. Schugel. Schugel pitched a 1-2-3 inning. After the strong work he did for the Bucs in 2016, Schugel should start the season in the Pirate bullpen. But that does not mean he will.

Minor League pitcher Tate Scioneaux pitched the bottom of the eighth inning for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He allowed one run on a hit, a walk, and he recorded a strikeout.

For the Pirates, Jordy Mercer hit leadoff on Sunday. He finished the day 2-for-4 at the plate. Josh Bell started at first base and went 1-for-5 with a double, and David Freese was at third base and went 0-for-2 with a walk.

John Jaso made yet another start in right field and went 1-for-3 with a walk. Grapefruit League MVP Jose Osuna started in left field and had another strong day at the plate. He finished 1-for-3 with a double, a walk, and he drove in two runs.

Top prospect Austin Meadows started in center field. He continued to have a hot spring going 2-for-4 with a double. He has opened a lot of eyes in Spring Training and showed that he is a future superstar.

Alen Hanson finished 1-for-2, and Jason Rogers doubled in his lone at-bat. Both Hanson and Rogers are in competition for the last spot on the Pirate bench. Gift Ngoepe is also competing for a bench spot and went 1-for-3 with a walk.

Next: Notes From The Neal Huntington Show (3/26)

Next up for the Pirates is a game back at LECOM Park against the Minnesota Twins. Monday’s first pitch is scheduled for 6:05 PM and the game will be televised on ROOT Sports. Ivan Nova will start for the Pirates, while the Twins hand the ball to Phil Hughes.