Home runs by Bryan Reynolds and Jack Suwinski were not enough for the Pittsburgh Pirates in Sunday's Grapefruit League loss against the Atlanta Braves
Sunday afternoon the Pittsburgh Pirates welcome the Atlanta Braves to LECOM Park in Bradenton. Ahead of an off day on Monday, the Pirates were defeated by the Braves 11-3. With the loss, the Bucs are now 4-10-2 in Grapefruit League action.
Mitch Keller continues to look strong
Mitch Keller started for the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday afternoon. While Keller's final line was not what he wanted, he pitched better than it looked. Keller's command look good, he was in control on the mound, he handled an adverse spot well, and his stuff looked good.
He allowed 2 runs in 4 innings pitched. Keller allowed just three hits, walked one batter, and struck out four. The first run Keller allowed came on an opposite field home run by defending NL Rookie of the Year Michael Harris II. The second run was a tough luck run after a ball that never left the infield deflected off of Keller's glove.
It is always difficult to put stock into spring training results. However, what you can put stock into is how a batter's swing looks or how a pitcher's stuff looks. Keller's stuff has looked thus far and he appears primed for a big 2023 season.
Outfielders go deep
The Pirate offense on Sunday was powered by two of the team's three projected starting outfields. Bryan Reynolds hit a mammoth of a solo home run in the 4th inning. His 2nd home run of the spring, and in as many days, cut the Brave lead to 2-1.
Jack Suwinski would then momentarily give the Pirates the lead in the bottom of the 5th inning. Suwinski hit a 2-run home run, his 1st of the spring, to give the Pirates a short lived 3-2 lead. This was a home run that Suwinski needed. He has struggled both offensively and defensively this spring, including a missed catch as part of Atlanta scoring a run in the 2nd inning on Sunday.
Disastrous 6th inning sinks the Bucs
Lefty Angel Perdomo took over in the top of the 6th inning. Due to Jarlín García's injury, Perdomo has a legitimate shot at cracking the team's Opening Day bullpen. Perdomo faced four batters, retiring two while also issuing a walk and allowing a base hit.
With two men on base, two outs in the top of the 6th inning and the Pirates leading 3-2, Perdomo was lifted for Yohan Ramirez. Ramirez would go on to have an absolutely woeful outing. The first four batters Ramirez faced reached base, including him allowing a home run.
When the dust settled, Ramirez had allowed 3 runs on three hits, a walk, and a home run in just 1/3 of an inning pitched. This resulted in the Braves putting up a 5 spot in the inning and taking a 7-3 lead. Ramirez's outing also saddled Perdomo with a pair of earned runs that scored when he was not on the mound.
Outside of the 6th inning bullpen (mostly) pitches well
Wil Crowe was the first reliever up for the Pirates after Keller's day ended. Crowe allowed a hit and struck a batter out in a scoreless 5th inning. Young righties Colin Selby and Yerry De Los Santos each pitched a hitless, scoreless inning of relief. They each struck out a batter and De Los Santos issued a walk.
Left-handed relief pitching prospect Tyler Samaniego pitched the top of the 9th inning. Samaniego did not have the outing he was hoping, largely due to struggling with his command. He allowed 4 runs while only recording one out before Cam Junker came in and got the final two outs of the inning.
Samaniego is one of the more intriguing relief pitching prospects in the Pirate farm system. It would not be a surprise to see him make his MLB debut this season, as he could be a big piece of the Pirate bullpen in the years to come.