Pirates Take Final Warm-Up

Pirates  4,  Phillies  1

The Pirates appreciated the warmer temperatures this afternoon — warmer than last night, anyway.  They held the Phillies to just 2 hits, and starter Charlie Morton gave up only one unearned run in 5 innings, as they won the second of two pre-season games in Philadelphia.  

A throwing error by 3B Pedro Alvarez put the first Phillies’ batter on base in the bottom of the 2nd inning.  Two ground outs moved the runner to third, then brought him in.  Morton worked around a single and a walk in the 1st and another walk in the 3rd.  He made an error in the 5th, when he missed the catch on a toss from 1B Steve Pearce, but worked around that too.  When Morton was done, Mike Crotta and Chris Resop each pitched a perfect inning.  Joel Hanrahan pitched the 8th and allowed a two-out triple, but left the runner standing on third.  Jared Hughes pitched a scoreless 9th, with a walk.

The Pirates scored two in the top of the 2nd, when 1B Lyle Overbay doubled, then Alvarez blasted a home run over the right center field wall.  Steve Pearce doubled to lead off the 6th.  He moved to second on a ground out, then scored on 3B Jordy Mercer’s RBI single.  The Pirates added an insurance run in the 9th.  SS Josh Rodriguez singled, then pinch-hitter Josh Harrison moved him to third with another single.  LF John Bowker drove in Rodriguez with a sacrifice fly.  

2B Brian Friday also singled in the game, and CF Starling Marte got into the game as well.

The Indy Indians were scheduled to play the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees in Bradenton this afternoon. 

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More Reassignments And Another Loss

Rays  9,  Pirates  5
The Pirates out-hit the Rays 10-9 this afternoon in Port Charlotte, Florida, but the Rays made the most of their opportunities and took the win.  The Pirates got busy in the top of the 1st, when Pedro Ciriaco, in center field again, opened the game with a single, then stole base.  He moved to third on a fly out, then scored on C Ryan Doumit’s double into right field.  RF Matt Diaz started the top of the 2nd with a single, and advanced to third base on a throwing error.  He scored on a wild pitch.  1B Andy Marte doubled, was bunted over to third base, and scored on starting pitcher Charlie Morton’s soft looper single into left field, giving the Pirates a 3-0 lead.  
The lead did not last long.  Morton got out of the first inning with a double play, but began the bottom of the 2nd by loading the bases on a double, a bunt, and a hi batter.  A 2-RBI double and a sacrifice fly brought in 3 runs for the Rays to tie the game.  The Pirates took the lead again in the 4th.  Marte led off with a single into right field, and 2B Corey Wimberly reached on a fielding error.  Morton bunted them up one base each, then both scored on SS Josh Rodriguez’s line drive single into right.  
Morton sailed through the bottom half of the 3rd and 4th innings, but loaded the bases again in the 5th, on a walk and two singles.  Then he got wild and forced in one run with a hit batter, and a second run with a walk, and the game was again tied, at 5-5.  Morton got out of the inning with two fly outs, and a force out at the plate on a little dribbler that did not leave the home plate area.  
Joel Hanrahan took over on the mound for the 6th inning.  He retired the first two batters he faced, then walked the next two.  A wild pitch moved the two runners up to second and third base, then an RBI single brought in both runners, giving the Rays a 7-5 lead.  Jose Veras pitched a perfect 7th inning, with one strikeout.  The Rays scored 2 more runs off Chris Resop in the 8th inning.  A double, and a bunt back to the mound that turned into a single, put two runners on base.  A sacrifice fly drove in one run, and a triple plated the second.  

2B Gift Ngoepe led off the top of the 9th with a walk, then SS Jordy Mercer singled through to left field, but both were left on base.  LF Evan Chambers, 3B Andy Vasquez, RF Robby Grossman, and 1B Matt Hague also got into the game. 

The Indy Indians were scheduled to play the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees this afternoon in Bradenton.  No word as yet — results from the minor league camp can be hit or miss.

The Pirates pared down their camp roster by four more this morning.  Pitcher Daniel McCutchen was optioned to AAA Indianapolis, where he could either be a starter or pitch in long relief.  Relievers Tyler Yates and Sean Gallagher were also reassigned to minor league camp, and are both expected to go to the Indy Indians’ bullpen.  C Wyatt Toregas and INF Josh Fields were also reassigned to minor league camp.  

Pitcher Fernando Nieve, who was reassigned to the minor league camp on Monday and released on Tuesday, was not unemployed for long.  On Thursday, he signed a minor league contract with the Astros.  

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Morton Looks Good, As Does Owens

Pirates  3,  Astros  1
Starter Charlie Morton continued to show the Pirates’ management that he belongs in the starting rotation with a 6-inning shutout performance today in Kissimmee, Florida.  Morton scattered 4 hits over his 6 innings and did not walk a batter.  He struck out 5 Astros.  C Humberto Quintero had two of those hits — a single in the 3rd, when he reached as far as third base before being stranded, and a two-out single in the 5th.  Astros’ starter Jordan Lyles followed that second single with a line drive into left field, and Quintero raced around the bases.  Pirates’ LF Josh Fields got the ball back into the infield quickly, and Quintero was caught in a run-down and tagged out by C Ryan Doumit.  Evan Meek and Chris Leroux each pitched a scoreless inning of relief.  Neither gave up a hit, but both worked around base runners who got on due to fielding errors.   SS Benji Gonzalez had a tough afternoon, with a fielding error in the 7th, back-to-back fielding errors in the 8th, then another fielding error in the 9th that lead to an unearned run.  With Mike Crotta on the mound in the 9th, the error, a single, and a walk loaded the bases, and a sacrifice fly drove in the Astros’ only run.  Crotta has not allowed an earned run in his previous 6 appearances (8.1 innings).  

SS Ronny Cedeno provided the Pirates with their first 2 runs, on a 2nd-inning home run that followed Josh Fields’ double.  Ryan Doumit picked up the RBI in the 3rd inning with a triple into left field, driving in 1B Andy Marte, who had singled.  Steve Pearce, who started at third base today, singled twice in the game.  CF Pedro Ciriaco, 2B Corey Wimberly, RF Cole White, 1B Garrett Atkins, and pinch-hitter Josh Rodriguez also got into the game.  

More roster moves are expected on Monday, as the Pirates head into the final full week of spring training.

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Pirates’ Pitchers Rule

Pirates  4,  Blue Jays  1
Pitchers were the story for the Pirates this afternoon in Dunedin, Florida.  Five Pirates’ pitchers combined to hold the Blue Jays to 4 hits this afternoon in Dunedin, Florida.  Charlie Morton made his second strong start in the Grapefruit League.  He gave up one run in the top of the 1st, courtesy of two former Pirates:  CF Rajai Davis led off with a double, legged out when LF Matt Diaz was a little slow in picking up (the Pirates should have anticipated Davis’ speed).   3B Jose Bautista drove the run in with a single slipped through into left field.   Morton ended the inning by inducing a double play, then he retired the side in both the 2nd and 3rd innings.  That included a nice barehanded snatch of a bunt attempt, and a whirl to throw the batter out at first.  Brad Lincoln buzzed through the next three innings, retiring all 9 batters he faced.  Morton and Lincoln each struck out one batter, and neither gave up a walk.  Tyler Yates and Jeff Locke each took an inning, and neither gave up a hit, though Yates walked one.  Cesar Valdez gave up the other two Jays’ hits in the 9th inning.  After a strikeout, he surrendered two singles, and with a wild pitch, that gave him runners on the corners.  But he picked the runner off first, then ended the game with a strikeout.

The Pirates’ hitters were having some trouble with Blue Jays’ starter Brett Cecil.  Cecil struck out 5 of the first 6 Pirates’ batters, and allowed only one hit, a double by C Jason Jaramillo, in the 3rd inning.  Jaramillo doubled again to lead off the 6th inning.  CF Andrew McCutchen followed with a walk, then a ground out put both runners into scoring position.  3B Pedro Alvarez drove in both with a standing triple into the right field corner, to give the Pirates a 2-1 lead.  They added a run in the 7th, when 2B Brian Friday doubled into left field with two outs, then scored on C Dusty Brown’s single.  Another two-out rally provided the Pirates’ fourth run in the top of the 9th.  SS Pedro Ciriaco lined a singled into right field, then stole second base.  3B Josh Rodriguez slipped a single into left field, and Ciriaco came around to score.  Rodriguez also stole second base, and Brown was hit by a pitch, but the rally ended when CF Corey Wimberly popped out.  
 
Also getting into the game:  Jeremy Farrell pinch-hit (ground out) in the 8th inning;  his father, John Farrell, is the new manager of the Blue Jays.  1B Josh Fields, LF Alex Presley, RF Gorkys Hernandez, and 3B Andy Marte also played.

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Pirates Fall To Rays, But Morton Looks Good

Rays  9,  Pirates  5  

The Pirates opened the official Grapefruit League season with a loss to the Rays.  The Pirates were held to just 6 hits.  All but two were singles and all but one were by the established major leaguers.  1B Garrett Atkins smacked a ground rule double for an RBI in the top of the 9th, and C Dusty Brown singled moments later.  LF Jose Tabata, 2B Neil Walker, 1B Lyle Overbay, and C Chris Snyder had the other hits.  LF Alex Presley walked twice in two trips to the plate; the second walk came in the top of the 9th, with two outs and a runner on second base, and the Pirates management watching carefully to see how he’d handle the situation.

Charlie Morton pitched the first two innings for the Pirates.  He had the lead-off batter reach base in both innings, on a walk and a single, but both times he got out of the innings courtesy of a double play.  Brad Lincoln worked around 2 singles to keep the Rays from scoring in the 3rd, but gave up a solo home run to Evan Longoria in the 4th.  Overall, an encouraging outing for Morton, and not too bad for Lincoln.  Chris Resop also gave up a solo home run in the 5th, which tied the score at 2-2.  After Daniel Moskos pitched a scoreless inning, Daniel McCutchen got into trouble in the 7th.  A double and two walks loaded the bases, and another double cleared them, giving the Rays a 5-2 lead.   Justin Thomas also struggled in his inning, the 8th, though the 4 runs that came in were all unearned, after a fielding error by 3B Josh Fields.  Tom Boleska, up from minor league camp, finished the inning, giving up a single before getting the final out. 

Other minor leaguers getting some playing time:  2B Josh Rodriguez, CF Gorkys Hernandez, SS Pedro Ciriaco.

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