ST. Pete, Fla. –Right-hander Jeff Karstens got the start against the Netherlands in part of the Intentional Baseball Tournament held at Al Lang Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. Although the stats don’t count towards Grapefruit League game scores, Karstens tossed four shutout frames on Monday scattering five hits with no walks and four strikeouts.
“With everything going on, it was kind of hard to focus because we’re not used to playing at this field,” Karstens said. “Just kind of everything that went along with it. Focus wise, it was good. I was able to do some things. I made some bad pitches. Ideally probably not the game plan I would pitch but I was able to get my work in and be efficient, and that’s ultimately what we’re trying to do every time out.”
In Karstens second inning of work, he quickly worked himself into a jam. After starting the frame with back-to-back singles, Karstens tried to pick off the runner at second base. His throw, however, reflected off the glove of Josh Harrison and went into the outfield for an error, pushing the runners to second and third. Karstens worked his way out of the frame unscathed striking out two of the next three batters.
Karstens said he used the situation to his benefit.
“That’s really when I told myself, if they’re going to do something, this is a really good time to really try and work on something,” Karstens said. “I wanted the first strikeout. I figured if I got the first one, I’m able to try and get out of that inning instead of trying to pitch around the second guy and set up the double play. We were able to do some things there that went our way. I made some pitches and got out of that inning, so that was definitely a bright spot.”
Although the Pirates were held to just two hits against the Phillies over at McKechnie Field in part of the split squad day, the bats were swinging in St. Pete.
Nick Evans and Brandon Boggs drew back-to-back walks off Netherland’s starter David Bergman to start the 2nd inning. Anderson Hernandez reached on an error by shortstop Michael Duursma to load the bases. Michael McKenry followed by hitting a three-run triple over the head of the Netherland’s right fielder to take a 3-0 lead. Jeff Karstens picked up an RBI of his own with a single up the right side to plate the fourth run of the inning.
“I’m just happy he wasn’t greedy and left me one,” Karstens said with a smile. “You can’t say enough about him. Ultimately I think he realizes it, and he realizes that his No. 1 job is to be able to catch behind the plate. But when he has days like this, they’re always bonuses. Good for him. He deserves it.”
“He was bragging about his batting average after his first at-bat,” McKenry said. “It was pretty funny. He did a great job offensively, and on the mound today.”
McKenry tacked on two more RBI in the 3rd inning after hitting a two-run homer to left field –picking up six RBI on the day in the 8-2 win.
An impressive feat. But McKenry said he’s had a six RBI day before.
“It’s been a little while,” McKenry said. “It was a great day. But more importantly, Karstens and [Daniel] McCutchen were really good. We played really good baseball today.”
“I made adjustments this offseason. Being able to work on them anytime regardless if it’s ‘A’ game, ‘B’ game, minor league at-bats. Whatever it is, it’s an opportunity to work on things. Anytime you can help the team win its even better.”
The Pirates tacked on a seventh run in the 4th inning off the Netherlands pitchers. Robbie Grossman hit a leadoff triple to left to start the frame. With one out, Evans hit a RBI single up the middle to take a 7-0 lead.
The Netherlands put a run on the board in the 6th in Daniel McCutchen’s second inning of work. After allowing a leadoff hit, the ball took a bad hop over first baseman Jeff Clement, the runner scored on a sac fly by infielder Vince Rooi.
- Robbie Grossman went 1-for-2 with a triple and an intentional walk; Nick Evans went 1-for-3 with a walk and a RBI; Michael McKenry went 2-for-2 with a triple, homer, six RBI, two runs and a walk.
- Daniel McCutchen: 2IP, H, R, HB; Jeff Locke: 2IP, H, R, 2BB, K; Shairon Martis: IP, H, 2BB, 2K