Spring Training Game 3: Bucs/Braves Live Blog

Final score: Atlanta 5, Pittsburgh 4. If you’re reading the log after the conclusion of the game, you’re going to want to start from the bottom and scroll to the top. I’ll provide a recap later tonight.

3:54:
Prado grounds to a drawn-in Walker at third, and Neil hurries an off-line throw to the plate. For what it’s worth, Freddy wouldn’t have made the play either. Scott Rolen might’ve.

3:53:
Romulo’s down to about 90-93 mph on the gun. I haven’t seen 94 in awhile.

3:52:
Hernandez looked awkward as can be in right field on a liner to his left. Runners on second and third now, no outs.

3:51:
Now ESPN says we might go 11 if the Braves don’t win it here.

3:50:
Ball four to Willie Harris.

3:49:
One more look at Romulo, as he stays on to pitch the last half inning.

BOTTOM OF THE TENTH

3:47: Rajai chops one back to the mound and still makes the play close at first. If he weren’t just a track star, I’d love to see him on the 25-man roster. Playing for the tie now.

3:45:
Eldred hit a hard liner into the left-center field gap, moving Walker to second. Neil took the opportunity to say hello to Lillibridge. Mike Edwards skied one to Harris at second. Two on, two out with Rajai Davis coming to the plate for his first AB. ESPN says we won’t go past 10 innings.

3:43:
Neil Walker draws a free pass on a full count. Looked comfortable at the plate.

3:40:
Don Kelly’s getting a workout, as he’s still in the game. He’s in the box against Moylan. You’ll see this one on SportsCenter, I’d assume. Liner back to the mound knocks the Brave’s glove off, but Moylan recovers and throws to first. Solid defense–but that’s to be expected from Atlanta’s staff.

TOP OF THE TENTH

3:38: Neil Walker rounds up a roller to third and steps on the bag to force extras. They’ll probably only play one, as the Bucs brought a limited number of pitchers on the trip.

3:36:
Gregor Blanco’s at bat with a chance to win the game. Romulo’s hitting 93-94 with ease.

3:34:
Romulo’s off-speed stuff is registering around 79-80 on ESPN’s gun. Lillibridge got doubled off second on a liner to Kelly. Two outs, runner on first. Mendez, the Braves’ 1B, singles–would’ve been the GWRBI if Brent could’ve gotten back safely.

3:33:
Romulo’s looking a little wild, which meshes well with the scouting report on him. Gets the count to 1-2, though, on Escobar (who was trying to bunt).

3:32:
Romulo walks T.J. Bohn. Runners on first and second, nobody out. The Braves have three cracks at the W; any hit to the outfield should score Lillibridge from second. Buttler’s in CF and Hernandez is in RF.

3:30:
Right on cue, Lillibridge swipes second.

3:30:
Romulo! in to pitch. He’s hitting 94 mph on the gun. Franco pops to center, but Buttler misjudges the wind and the ball drops in. Brent Lillibridge on to pinch run.

BOTTOM OF THE NINTH

3:26: Nope. Grounds to short. Heading to the bottom of the ninth, we’re still tied at four.

3:25:
Jose K. to the plate. How about one of those mysterious homers?

3:23:
Missed the end of Bixler’s at bat, sorry. He worked the count to 2-2 (at least) before making an out.

3:21:
Peter Moylan (RHP, 1-7, 6.35 in minors last year) for Atlanta. Buttler’s batting for Pittsburgh. Can we scratch one across here? Buttler grounded out to second. Harris looks sharp.


TOP OF THE NINTH

3:17: James Jurries is hitting everything hard today. Peter Gammons on the NL Central: “It’s probably the weakest division in baseball, but it has five or six teams that can finish .500.” I wonder who the loser is? Jurries strikes out to end the frame. We need a run in the ninth to avoid extras.

3:16:
Bixler to Eldred (I’m assuming) for the second out.

3:15:
Another Diaz throw squirted into the outfield, but Bixler gave the runner a knee to the gut to make sure Clark wouldn’t advance. Leave it to Peter Gammons to have an anecdote for Clark, relaying a story about a catch in the Beanpot tournament.

3:13:
Clark rocketed a liner up the middle. He really got a hold of it. Guys in the booth are talking about the Braves’ staff (Mike Hampton and the bullpen, specifically), so I don’t know who’s at the plate.

3:12:
First Brave grounds out to the infield. Doug Clark up now.

3:11:
Josh Sharpless on for the Bucs. Peter Gammons is in the booth. (Sorry I didn’t get a screenshot of Bullington’s wife, Dave.)

BOTTOM OF THE EIGHTH

3:09: Guzman was doubled off, but not his fault today. Hit and run was on and Willie Harris made a leaping grab of a liner up the middle.

3:06:
Javier Guzman, yesterday’s goat, batting for the Bucs. He gets HBP. He’s not chubby, contrary to the reports from Lanny and Steve yesterday that Javy put on 15-20 pounds in the off-season. He could be a utility IF type in time, I suppose, but he won’t ever be a solid contributor.

3:05:
Steve Colyer, a lefty, now pitching for the Braves. Edwards promptly flies out to left-center.

TOP OF THE EIGHTH

3:02: Bullington goes 1-2-3 with two K’s. Can’t ask for much more.

3:02:
Phillips says that the AL Central is baseball’s strongest. I’d probably pick the AL East, but what do I know.

3:00:
Bullington gets Pena swinging. Solid outing so far, let’s get the third out now.

2:59:
Bryan Bullington on for the Bucs. He’s wearing #46 and has a nameplate, if that’s any indication of how the Pirates feel about the former top draft choice. Got the first batter to fly to left. Bullington’s wife is cute.

BOTTOM OF THE SEVENTH

2:55: John Kruk is far from eloquent, but his logic (they know how to win) is right for picking the Cardinals to win the Central. Phillips says the Brewers are a team to watch. For all of the unbridled enthusiam earlier in the game, the Pirates aren’t mentioned. Brad Eldred struck out swinging to end the frame. Headed to the bottom of the seventh, the score’s tied at 4.

2:54:
Walker to the plate for the first time today. Struck out looking at an 0-2 fastball on the inside corner. I thought it might’ve been a ball, but I can’t blame the ump for wanting to get the game moving.

2:53:
Villarreal shook off his minor-league catcher four or five times before getting Jose Hernandez to ground a curveball to third. Don Kelly just poked a single to right.

2:52:
Bixler goes yard to left-center. Might’ve gone even if it hadn’t hit the wind. At the very least it was a double.

2:50:
Oscar Villarreal in for the Braves. He’s should be one of the better sixth-inning relievers in the game. He wasn’t that special as a setup guy, but with Soriano and Gonzo in town, those days are over.

TOP OF THE SEVENTH

2:48: Capps gets T.J. Bohn to ground to Bixler at short. Inning’s finally over. Braves 4, Pirates 3 heading into the last third of the game.

2:47:
Franco doubles in Jurries, another ball to Mike Edwards in left. Matt’s having a long day.

2:45:
Iker Franco catching for the Braves now, and batting against Capps.

2:44:
No idea who just doubled off Capps, but the ball got stuck in the left field corner and the runers were off to the races. Tie game.

2:44:
Prado singled up the middle, nice piece of hitting. Harris scores, charge the run to Einar.

2:42:
I think Capps struck someone out; I turned away for a second and missed an at bat. The announcers are talking about steroids, not what’s happening on the field. Martin Prado to the plate.

2:41:
Harris swipes second, and Diaz’s throw hops into center. Error charged to the catcher, allowing Harris to advance to third. I thought Bixler could’ve knocked the ball down.

2:40:
Doug Clark pinch hits (I think) for the Braves. He could’ve been in the game already, ESPN is doing a shoddy job of passing along the changes. Another LHB.

2:39:
Eldred tried to turn a 3-6-3 DP, but double-pumped on the throw. Blanco out at second, Harris reaches on the FC.

2:36:
Willie Harris at the dish for the Braves. Another lefty. Shot of “Big Country” Brad Eldred standing next to Blanco at first. Looks hungry, if you ask me.

2:36:
Matt walked Blanco. There’s something you don’t see every day.
2:35: Capps is in, facing an unidentified LHB from the Braves.

2:34:
The new batting practice jerseys: Sharp. The new BP hats: Not so sharp. The new red alternates? Don’t get me started.

BOTTOM OF THE SIXTH

2:32: Vic grounded to second. Not a bad IP by the former Pirate, wish him the best of luck in ’07.

2:30:
Vic Buttler batting now. Gonzo’s velocity is at 90-91. Not a huge difference. Looks as if he’s healthy.

2:29:
Einar Diaz gets his first ups. Singled to left. Nothing impressive. Gonzo’s throwing a lot of pitches.

2:29:
Gonzo struck out Ryan. Two down.

2:27:
Larry’s talking about his bum foot and the enhanced Braves’ pen. Missed seeing what Castillo did because Thorne’s asking about Chipper’s goatee.

2:26:
Brad Eldred poked a shot over the left field wall. Wind might’ve helped a bit. Pirates up 3-1.

2:24:
According to the radar gun, Gonzo’s fastball is around 92-93 and his breaking stuff is around 83-84. McLouth worked the count to 3-2 before drawing a walk.

2:23:
Here comes the BOOM! Gonzo in for the Braves, throwing against McLouth. It’s taking awhile for the broadcast team to mention that Gonzalez came from the Pirates.

2:23:
Well-done tribute to Jackie Robinson in between innings featuring Don Newcombe.

TOP OF THE SIXTH

2:21: Pena grounds out to Kelly. Other than one mistake, not a terrible inning by Six-Fingers.

2:20:
Osoria gets Thorman for the second out, first baseman Eldred to the pitcher covering.

2:20:
Two hits for the Braves now. Francoeur just hit a bomb to left. No doubt about it, it’s gone.

2:18:
Franquelis Osoria in for the Bucs, gets McCann to ground out to Kelly at second on the first pitch. Bixler’s in at short, I presume.

BOTTOM OF THE FIFTH

2:16:
Kelly grounds out to second. If Walker weren’t his brother-in-law, would he still be in camp? I don’t think so. Through four and a half, it’s 1-0 Bucs (and we’re one-hitting the Braves).
2:15: Phillips talking about JVB, Burnett and Bullington: “If two of those three can come through, they’ll have tremendous depth.” Huge if, Steve. He’s talking about trying to add a veteran at the deadline if the Bucs are in contention.

2:14:
Duffy reaches on an infield hit up the middle.

2:13:
Is it just me, or does Bixler look like he’s a big guy? Not pudgy, tall and lanky. More like an outfielder or corner infielder than a shortstop. Maybe it’s just the TV.

2:11:
Brian Bixler into the game as a pinch hitter, reached on an infield single. Duffy to the plate.
2:11: First mention of Sid Bream, 1992 and 14 consecutive losing seasons. “That’s a long time,” says Thorne.

2:10:
Steve Phillips is whining about the Pirates’ infield and how Wilson ran his mouth. Castillo’s getting some superficial treatment on his knee in the dugout, looks like he scraped it. Garabito grounded out to the pitcher.

2:09:
Garabito up.

2:08:
Maldanado flies out weakly to center fielder Blanco. The Braves’ backups are in for the most part. First mention of the Wilson-Castillo controversy by Gary Thorne.

2:07:
They’re both big men, but not in the World’s Strongest Man kind of way. John Kruk made a fat joke, if that paints the picture for you.

2:06:
Wickman in for the Braves. Maldanado up to bat.

TOP OF THE FIFTH

2:04: Andruw flew out to left. Armas was perfect in two innings. Wind’s blowing hard from left to right, and the skies are overcast. Just in case you were wondering. I bet it’s a bit warmer there than it is here.

2:02:
Bottom line update: Broncos tried to trade Jake Plummer, but the Snake says he’ll retire instead.

2:01:
Armas forced Diaz to pop to second. Chipper flew out to left. Let’s see if Andruw goes down as easily. Phillips mentioned that an eight-year deal similar to Soriano’s is his asking price this off-season.
BOTTOM OF THE FOURTH
1:59: Jose made up for it. Ryan lined to short (a nifty leaping grab by Pena), and Castillo was doubled up.

1:57:
Castillo was picked off second, but the ump called him safe. There was all kinds of daylight between Harris and Jose when McBride wheeled and threw.

1:56:
Castillo looks like he’s in good shape. He doubled into the right field corner and hustled into second. Pirates up 1-0.

1:55:
Phillips is talking about how the Pirates will focus on manufacturing runs in 2007.

1:54:
LaRoche flew out to Andruw in left-center. McLouth just stole second by a good margin.

1:53:
The answer to McLouth: Not great, but serviceable. Let’s see if LaRoche can do any better. He looks goofy wearing 96.

1:51:
McLouth up to bat. Bears mentioning that McBride’s a lefty, so we’ll see how McLouth and LaRoche look against southpaws.
1:49: A quick note before the game comes back on: During the intro for the game, the ESPN crew was saying how the Pirates believe they have a legitimate chance to win the division. I felt obligated to mention it. Obviously the Bucs aren’t going to say that they’re shooting for third, and ESPN isn’t going to be Debbie Downer, but no one in the Pirates’ sphere thinks we’re anything but mediocre.

TOP OF THE FOURTH

1:48: Armas struck out McBride. Kelly Johnson to the plate. He’s trying to win the Braves’ second base job. He’s not going to do it grounding out to Armas, though. Still knotted at zero after three.

1:46:
Armas got Pena on a weak grounder to second. Now he’s facing the pitcher, McBride. A tough outing.
1:44: Tony Armas in to throw for the Bucs. Tony Armas Jr. against Tony Pena Jr. Their daddies were good, now it’s time for the kids to step up.

BOTTOM OF THE THIRD

1:42: I think we’re squared away now. McBride struck out Kelly. I’m trying to play catchup. Heading into the bottom half, it’s still scoreless.

1:39:
Macay McBride in to pitch for the Braves. Eddy Garabito led off with a single between short and third. Snell moved the runner over with a sacrifice bunt, but he’s hitting the showers anyway. Duffy singled to center, but Andruw gunned down Garabito at the plate. As a baseball fan, it was a fun play to watch.
TOP OF THE THIRD
1:38: Snell looked sharp. Got McCann and Francouer on weak flairs to LaRoche. Got Thorman on a grounder to second, too. Snell says Snell is ready.

BOTTOM OF THE SECOND

1:35: LaRoche led off with a groundout, but that wasn’t the story. He’s wearing #96 today because he left his jersey in Bradenton. Forgot his sunglasses, too. John Smoltz almost hit him with a knuckleball (a new pitch he’s working on this spring). Gary Thorne, John Kruk and Steve Phillips are calling the game, and they found the whole thing hilarious. I’m worried. They mentioned that he forgot his golf clubs on an outing with Tiger Woods, too. FOCUS! (Castillo struck out, Ryan tripled in front of Jeff Francoeur and Maldanado struck out.)

TOP OF THE SECOND

1:33: Kelly Johnson grounded out to Don Kelly, and it took everything the Pirate had to throw him out at first. Candy arm. Diaz singled to right, and Chipper popped up to left-center. Snell struck out Andruw.

BOTTOM OF THE FIRST

1:31:
Lagging like crazy, again my apologies. I’ll go with half-inning updates until I get this squared away. For the Bucs’ half of the first, Duffy struck out on four pitches. Don Kelly grounded out to short. McLouth struck out. The hardest hit ball was a foul grounder down the first base line.

TOP OF THE FIRST

1:13: Sorry guys, had problems with the Internet again. Looks like we’re good to go now, though. The lineups:

  Pittsburgh Pos. Atlanta Pos.
1 Duffy CF Johnson 2B
2 Kelly SS Diaz LF
3 McLouth RF C. Jones 3B
4 LaRoche 1B A. Jones CF
5 Castillo 3B McCann C
6 Ryan LF Francoeur RF
7 Maldanado C Thorman 1B
8 Garabito 2B Pena SS
9 Snell SP Smoltz SP

1:00: Live feed’s going on MLB.TV (from ESPN). Get in the fast lane grandma, this bingo game’s ready to roll. BREAKING NEWS: Jake Plummer might retire if the Broncos try to trade him. BREAKING NEWS 2: Jake Plummer’s awful.
12:56: If links are any indication, it looks as if we’ll have a live box score up at MLB.com. All kinds of coverage on this game, folks.
12:53: I’m guessing the game comes on at 1. Still scouring the Web for game-related info (starters, weather, etc.). Let’s Go Bucs!
4:15 a.m.: Shut up Gonzo:

“No sooner am I out of the office than Chipper [Jones] came over, welcomed me and told me, basically, this is how things are here, and this is how they’re going to be. He told me, ‘We’re here to win.'” Gonzalez recalled by phone from Kissimmee, Fla., the Braves’ training site. “My reaction was, like, ‘Whoa!’ You could just tell the difference right away.”
The difference?
“Such a positive attitude. The expectations are so high here, and you can sense it everywhere. These guys…they’ve got a vibe about them. It’s a winning attitude, man.”

4:10 a.m.: Snell’s starting for the Bucs against John Smoltz.

  Pittsburgh Pos. Atlanta Pos.
1        
2        
3        
4        
5        
6        
7        
8        
9 Snell SP Smoltz SP

Since yesterday’s live blog went so smoothly (and since I’ll be watching today’s game, too), how about we try it again? First pitch from Disney is scheduled for 1:05. You can watch live on MLB.TV (a subscription service) or on ESPN. FM NewsTalk 104.7 isn’t carrying today’s contest.
I should be here by 12:45 or so. Feel free to leave a comment or two beforehand if you’re interested in anything specific about the game. Let’s hope it doesn’t rain.

Author: Randy Linville

Randy is currently living and thriving in suburban Dayton, OH with his wife and two kids. He was raised in Cincinnati, OH and attended Anderson High School. He went to Miami University (Ohio) and received a degree in Paper Science Engineering from MU. He is a devout Christian and a pop culture buff. He coaches his son’s baseball and basketball teams and his daughters softball and basketball teams. Randy has been a Pirates fan since the late 1970s and has fond memories of the 1979 World Series team. He began blogging for Most Valuable Network in 5/2004 after stumbling across a help-wanted sign for a Pirates blogger. He wrote for Pittsburgh Lumber Co. until the site merged with Pirates Prospects in 2/2011.

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