Crotta Has A Good Inning; Indy Indians Lose Second Game

Blue Jays 5,  Pirates  3
The Pirates lost to the Blue Jays at McKechnie Field this afternoon.   
Pitchers Mike Crotta, Chris Resop, and Joel Hanrahan each pitched a scoreless inning for the Pirates, with both Crotta and Hanrahan retiring the side in order.  Crotta was aided by a leaping catch by SS Pedro Ciriaco.  Starter Paul Maholm pitched 5 innings and allowed 4 runs — a solo homer in the 1st, then a 2-run homer in the 3rd.  Another run scored in the 3rd on a walk, a stolen base and a single.  Jose Veras allowed one run in the 8th on two singles and a sacrifice bunt, but he struck out the last two batters he faced to get out of the inning.

2B Neil Walker tied the score in the bottom of the 1st with his second home run of the spring.  1B Lyle Overbay and RF Garrett Jones added a run in the 4th.  Overbay walked, then advanced to second base on a wild pitch.  Jones’ single through the right side of the infield brought Overbay across the plate.  The Blue Jays helped with the Pirates’ final run in the 8th.  With two outs, CF Corey Wimberly singled up the middle, and he also moved up to second base on a wild pitch.   Three straight walks, to 3B Josh Rodriguez, pinch-hitter Andy Marte, and Jones, forced in Wimberly.  The Pirates tried a last-minute rally in the 9th, when C Wyatt Toregas singled and 2B Jordy Mercer walked.  A fly out by Wimberly ended the rally, though.  

Also in the game today:  LF Josh Fields, C Dusty Brown, RF John Bowker


 In Minor League Camp: 
Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs  6,  Indianapolis Indians  5
The Indians had an early lead, as they faced Phillies’ star Roy Halladay this afternoon.  DH Tony Sanchez picked up 2 RBI with a timely double in the 1st inning, and C Travis Scott added an RBI double in the 2nd inning.  The Indians had runners on first and third in the 5th inning, when RF Miles Durham (on third) and DH Gorkys Hernandez (on first) pulled off a double steal, for the Indians’ fourth run off Halladay.  2B Christian Colonel made it 5-3 in the top of the 8th with a solo home run.  But the Iron Pigs tied the score with 2 runs in the bottom of the 8th, taking advantage of two Tribe errors and a sacrifice fly.  Reliever Anthony Claggett then surrendered a double, which drove in the go-ahead run and gave Claggett the loss.  

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Nice Pitching By Dubee, Crotta, and Boleska

Twins  4,  Pirates  2
The Pirates fell to a 3-3 record in Grapefruit League play this afternoon at McKechnie field.  Both teams posted 9 hits, but the Twins did a better job of pushing runs across.  Ross Ohlendorf made the start and was charged with the loss, but the only run he gave up was unearned, and 4 of the 5 outs he recorded were strikeouts.  The run came in the top of the 1st, on a walk, a passed ball, and an RBI double.  Ohlendorf got the first two outs in the top of the 2nd, then gave up a single, and by then he had reached his pitch limit.  Mike Dubee, up from minor league camp, finished the inning for Ohlendorf, blowing three pitches past Jason Repko for a strikeout.  Tony Watson pitched the 3rd inning, and gave up a run on a walk and an RBI double.  

The Pirates got one run back in the bottom of the 5th.  RF Andrew Lambo started the rally with a ground rule double down the left field line, and then he scored on LF Jose Tabata’s single up the middle.  Mike Crotta pitched 2 scoreless innings, working around a hit in each (4th and 5th).   Joel Hanrahan took over for the 6th.  The first batter he faced, 2B Luke Hughes, drove a 3-2 pitch over the left field wall to give the Twins a 3-1 lead.  After the homer, Hanrahan got two outs, then loaded the bases with a walk and two singles.  Hanrahan was relieved by another minor league pitcher, Tom Boleska, who needed just one pitch to end the inning with a fly out, leaving all three runners stranded.  

Jose Veras pitched a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the 8th for the Pirates.  Justin Thomas gave up another unearned run in the top of the 8th.  With one out, a fly ball to center field should have been either an out or a harmless single, but CF Gorkys Hernandez had trouble with the windy conditions.  He dropped the ball, then when he tried to pick it up off the ground, he dropped it twice more.  That allowed the runner to reach third base (3-base error).  An RBI single brought him in from third base.  Chris Leroux finished things up by retiring the side in the top of the 9th.  The Pirates rallied again in the bottom of the 9th.  With one out, DH Steve Pearce lifted a double into center field.  C Dusty Brown lined a single into right field, plating Pearce from second base.  Pedro Ciriaco pinch-ran for Brown, and he reached second base on RF Starling Marte’s ground out, but another ground out by LF Alex Presley ended the game.  Marte had singled in the 7th inning, but was out at second on a force play.

Also getting into the game:  SS Corey Wimberly, SS Chase d’Arnaud, 3B Garrett Atkins,  2B Brian Friday, and 1B Josh Fields

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Beckman’s Surprise Appearance

Pirates  10,  Rays  3

The Pirates posted 13 hits on their way to 10 runs in their McKechnie Field opener on Sunday afternoon.  CF Andrew McCutchen had three hits, including a solo homer for the Pirates’ first run of the game, and a double.  RF Garrett Jones also had three hits — 2 doubles and a single.  McCutchen began a rally in the 4th with a single, and doubles by Jones and C Ryan Doumit drove in 2 runs, all off former Pirate pitcher Chris Bootcheck.  Another former Pirate, Jonah Bayliss, came on to pitch the 5th inning for the Rays.  Bayliss got the first two outs, then gave up a triple to 2B Neil Walker, and doubles by McCutchen and 3B Pedro Alvarez, and the Pirates had 2 more runs.  Chase d’Arnaud came into the game for Walker in the 6th, and he led off the bottom of the 7th with a walk.  D’Arnaud moved to second base on a ground out, then scrambled around from second base, surprising the Rays, to score on an RBI ground out by 1B Steve Pearce.  The Pirates added another 4 runs in the bottom of the 8th.  That inning began with a solo homer by C Jason Jaramillo.  SS Josh Rodriguez singled, then with two outs and Rodriguez on third, d’Arnaud lined an RBI single up the middle.  CF Corey Wimberly walked, and 3B Andy Marte drove in both d’Arnaud and Wimberly with a double into right field.  

Kevin Correia made the start for the Pirates.  He gave up a run in the top of the 1st, with a lead-off walk and two ground outs.  Correia got into trouble in the 2nd inning, giving up two singles and a walk to load the bases with one out.  That was all for Correia.  Minor leaguer Ryan Beckman, who pitched for State College in 2010, came on in relief of Correia.  Beckman got the first batter he faced to ground to second, which allowed the runner from third to score.  Another ground out ended the inning.  Usually that would be the end of the outing for a minor leaguer who is filling in.  But, Joe Beimel, who was scheduled to pitch after Correia, had some elbow soreness and did not pitch.  So, Beckman kept going.  He threw three more pitches, and retired three batters in the 3rd inning, with a line out and two ground outs.  Brian Burres earned the win with 2 scoreless innings following Beckman.  Joel Hanrahan, Jose Veras, and another minor leaguer, Tony Watson, each pitched one scoreless inning.  Watson worked around a lead-off single in the 8th.  Chris Leroux pitched the 9th, and gave up a solo homer and two singles, but ended the inning with a pop out and a double play.  

LF John Bowker and RF Andrew Lambo also got into the game.  

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Roster Updates And Playoff Games

An update on some recent roster moves by the Pirates:

Pitcher Jose Veras took a few days, but did sign a minor league contract with the Pirates.  Veras is a 30-year-old who was first signed by the Rays in 1998.  He began playing in the US in 2002, and split both the 2003 and 2004 at the AA and AAA levels.  He was granted free agency after 2004 and was signed by the Rangers for 2005, spending that season at the AAA level, where he made 57 relief appearances with a 3.80 ERA.  Veras signed with the Yankees after that, and pitched in their organization for the next 3+ seasons.  He split that time between the AAA level (2.56 ERA in 95 innings, with 115 strikeouts) and the major league club (4.50 ERA in 102 innings, with 94 strikeouts).  The 2008 season was his best of those, with 60 relief appearances for the Yankees and 3.59 ERA and a 5-3 record.  In 2009, the Yankees traded Veras to the Cleveland Indians, where he finished the last 3 months of the season.  The Dominican native made 22 relief appearances for Cleveland with a 1-2 record and a 4.38 ERA, with 22 strikeouts.  He signed with the Marlins for 2010 and began the season in AAA New Orleans.  He began the season slowly, but got better in May and was tough in June:  a 1.80 ERA in 10 innings (10 games) with 12 strikeouts.  That earned him a promotion to the Marlins, where he finished the season with 48 relief appearances.  In 48 innings, he earned a 3-3 record and a 3.75 ERA with 54 strikeouts.  Veras did not play winter ball this off-season.  The righty will be competing for a spot in the Pirates’ bullpen

C Wyatt Toregas has also been inked to a minor league contract.  He was the Cleveland Indians’ 24th pick in the 2004 draft, and began his pro career in 2005, reaching the AAA level in 3008 and the major leagues in 2009.  Toregas hit .284 for the Columbus Clippers (AAA) in 60 games in 2009, with 7 homers and 69 RBI.  In 19 appearances for the Indians in that season, he hit only.176 with 6 RBI.  The Virginia native was still on the Indians’ 40-man roster at the beginning of 2010, but spent the entire season in the minor leagues, possibly battling injuries.  At AA Akron, he got into just 17 games, hitting .203 with one home run and 6 RBI.  At AAA Columbus, he was in just 14 games and hit .200 with 2 homers and 6 RBI.  He has a slim chance of sticking with the Pirates out of spring training, but will more likely be in Indianapolis to begin 2011.

In addition to Veras and Toregas, a few other minor leaguers have been invited to big league camp for spring training:  catchers Tony Sanchez and Eric Fryer, infielders Chase d’Arnaud and Brian Friday, and outfielder Andrew Lambo.  

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