The Pirates dropped a road game to Baltimore, 7-4. The game was unsettling from the standpoint of where the Orioles’ runs came from. The Pirates are now 3-7-2.
The positive side was a strong start from Vince Velasquez. He faced just ten batters over three innings, allowing a hit and fanning three. (For some reason, Ed Smith Stadium doesn’t appear to support gameday, much less Statcast, data, so there’s no fun to be had with gun readings and pitch types.)
The bad news was the seven runs, which came on two swings of the bat. Colin Holderman, who appeared to be on a glide path to the 8th inning (and may still be, really), served up a three-run bomb. Then Jose Hernandez, whose window of opportunity blew wide open with the news that Jarlin Garcia will miss the beginning of the season, allowed a grand slam.
Things were fine after that. Dauri Moreta, Yerry De Los Santos and Quinn Priester allowed just two baserunners in an inning each, on a single (De Los Santos) and a hit batsman (Priester).
The hitters were mostly back in Haines mode. Cal Mitchell, one of the very few hitters on the team who hasn’t looked lost this spring, had two hits, and scored a run on a Connor Joe double. You have to wonder whether the acquisition of Mark Mathias bodes ill for Joe. The two are basically the same hitter, except Mathias has mostly been better, and Mathias can play more positions.
The only other hits by starters were singles by Oneil Cruz; Rodolfo Castro, who played third; and Chris Owings, who played second.
The subs produced the last two runs, with Endy Rodriguez, Canaan Smith-Njigba and Jason Delay all getting singles. Smith-Njigba drove in the two runs, although he got caught between first and second on the play. Travis Swaggerty drew a walk his only time up.
Among the other ostensible job seekers, Ryan Vilade, who’s still on the roster, was 0-for-3, and Miguel Andujar was 0-for-2 with a walk. The mass substitutions are coming later, like the eighth inning or so, which means no real opportunities for those guys. That makes it more important for guys like Vilade, who’s still on the roster, and Swaggerty, to see who’s getting some starts.
Having followed the Pirates fanatically since 1965, Wilbur Miller is one of the fast-dwindling number of fans who’ve actually seen good Pirate teams. He’s even seen Hall-of-Fame Pirates who didn’t get traded mid-career, if you can imagine such a thing. His first in-person game was a 5-4, 11-inning win at Forbes Field over Milwaukee (no, not that one). He’s been writing about the Pirates at various locations online for over 20 years. It has its frustrations, but it’s certainly more cathartic than writing legal stuff. Wilbur is retired and now lives in Bradenton with his wife and three temperamental cats.