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Bucs Held to One Hit; Morton Unlucky in Loss to Twins

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The last time the Pirates were in Fort Myers, the club hammered out 10 runs on 15 hits in the first inning against the Minnesota Twins. On Sunday, however, the results were much different.

The Pirates were held hitless by the Twins’ lefty starter Francisco Liriano and the Minnesota bullpen until one out in the 7th inning. Outfielder Brandon Boggs hit a single into right center, but was called out at second trying to stretch a single into a double. That was the lone hit by the Bucs in the 10-0 loss at Hammond Stadium.

Right-hander Charlie Morton allowed five runs on seven hits with a walk and two strikeouts over three innings in his second outing of the Grapefruit League this spring. But don’t read too much into the numbers.

“I felt he’s the spot we anticipated him being in right now,” Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle said. “Second time out, three innings, 51 pitches. On the upside: nine balls were on the ground. On the other upside: 11 of 18 first pitch strikes. On the other upside: 15 hitters put the ball in play in three pitches or less.”

Morton said after his outing he was fine with what happened during the outing. Morton also said he spoke with pitching coach Ray Searage, who also was also fine with what happened. “He didn’t know what to say either.”

“It’s hard to assess an outing like the because what I feel normally works, and what leads to success for me is what just happened. It just didn’t happen,” Morton said. “What normally works for me, when I get ground balls and weak contact, I get outs. But today, I didn’t feel like I was giving up hard hit balls, and I gave up five runs in three innings.”

All five runs scored off Morton in the bottom of the 2nd inning. No balls were hit hard, but found a way to find a hole. Of the five straight hits, two of them were infield singles, including Alexi Casilla’s, who hit a grounder to first baseman Jake Fox, which caused a run to score.

“It was just a lot of ground balls in the right spot. It was just kind of weird,” Morton said.

Morton admitted that his fastball command wasn’t great, and that he did feel a bit unlucky from his results.

“When the guys are fisting balls into right field, and they’re dropping in front of the right fielder, whatever was happening out there, those things do happen,” Morton said. “Just probably wise, I didn’t think the probability was that high, that it was going to keep happening. But those things do happen in baseball. You’ll have those outings where you’ll give up ground balls and you don’t get outs.”

Perhaps the curse of being a contact pitcher.

“Yes. Because that’s the one thing I want to do. I’m not out there to strike guys out,” Morton said. “Obviously when I get more command, and the better I do with what the hitters are trying to do against me, strikeouts will come. I’m trying to make the guy hit the ball.”

The Twins tacked on five more runs in the bottom of the 7th inning off right-handers Chris Leroux and Tim Wood.

Leroux gave up a leadoff home run to Brian Dozier and a walk, before allowing back-to-back doubles to plate two runs. Wood was called upon from the bullpen, and gave up two RBI singles into center field.

Game Notes:

  • Relief: Evan Meek: IP; Juan Cruz IP; Tony Watson: IP, BB; Chris Leroux: 0.1 IP, 3H, 4R, BB, HR; Tim Wood: 0.2 IP, 2H, R; Jared Hughes: IP, H, 2K
  • Outfielder Nate McLouth was removed from the game today as a precaution with soreness in his right foot caused by fouling a ball off his foot during the game.
“I don’t know exactly where he took it off, but it was problematic a little bit so we took him out,” Hurdle said.

Monday is the last remaining off day scheduled for the Pirates. 

Tuesday Game Info:

  • The Pirates will face the New York Yankees in Tampa on Tuesday. Lefty Erik Bedard is expected to start for Pittsburgh against New York’s Michael Pineda.
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