The Pirates got some very good pitching and beat Toronto, 7-2, at LECOM Park. Their spring record is now 3-6-2.
After spending the first week and a half of the spring making anemic contact, the Pirates’ hitters actually hit a lot of balls hard in this one, only to spend six innings watching nearly everything get caught. Ironically, the game broke open late because the Jays’ outfielders couldn’t catch fly balls.
For the first six innings, the Pirates’ offense was an infield hit by Andrew McCutchen — his first hit of the spring — followed by an opposite field home run by Carlos Santana. The only other hit was a single by Jack Suwinski following the home run, and Suwinski got thrown out trying to stretch it into a double. (It took a good play by the left fielder and was very close, so it was a good decision on Suwinski’s part.)
Other than that, there were a lot of bullets, including a couple each by Bryan Reynolds and Ji-Hwan Bae, with little result. Speaking of which, in the daily positional bingo game, Reynolds moved back to center, with Suwinski in left. Bae played short, Rodolfo Castro second and Jared Triolo third.
Once everybody’s subs were in the game, the Pirates got the lead on a dropped fly ball in the seventh. They got three more from another flub in the eighth, after Lolo Sanchez opened the inning with a dinger to left.
Mitch Keller started and had a strong outing. There were a lot of backups in the Jays’ lineup, but still . . . . Three innings, no walks, three hits and no runs. Two of the hits weren’t even his fault. One was a shallow fly to left that Suwinski lost in the sun. Another was an infield hit on which Bae made a great diving stop but couldn’t get the throw to first. Keller took care of that by eventually picking the runner off second. Keller went heavily with sinkers and fastballs, and lots of cutters, rarely going with his curve and throwing just a few changeups and pitches gameday considers “sweepers.”
Chase De Jong followed with a seven-pitch inning, all strikes, which should earn him some sort of special commendation.
The most interesting part came from prospects. Carmen Mlodzinski had an impressive, eight-pitch inning, mostly fastballs, 95-97 mph, six strikes. He briefly showed a very good cutter. Mlodzinski throws from a very low angle. Well . . . it’s not so much the arm angle, which is about three-quarters, but he drops down very low and drives forward, which exaggerates the three-quarter angle. If his showing so far this spring holds up, he could be an option sooner rather than later.
Cody Bolton also had a good inning, needing ten pitches, eight strikes. He mixed a fastball, 93-95 mph, sinker and slider.
Mike Burrows had the only tough inning, but the defense could have helped more. He had two outs and one on when Reynolds lost a fly ball in the sun and it dropped for a gift RBI triple. The next batter grounded one up the middle and Bae made another great diving stop, but lofted the throw into no-man’s land. The two plays were illustrations of how he may not have the arm for short. He did successfully make one very good play, charging in on a slow bouncer. Of course, that was a much shorter throw.
The other two innings went to Tyler Chatwood and lefty Daniel Zamora. Chatwood didn’t throw a lot of strikes, but had a 1-2-3 inning anyway. Zamora did throw strikes. He also threw sliders — nine out of 11 pitches — for his own 1-2-3 inning.
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.
I’d hate to be a major league outfielder playing in McKechnie Field.
True. But the Pirates’ muffs were sun-related. The two Jays’ drops were just fumbles.
I look at Jordan Walker and think that Pirate fans can’t have nice things. I watch the Pirate game and even the runs they score with a few exceptions are because the other team drops balls. I argue with myself, “How can a team that supposedly relies on draft and development be so bad at hitting?” Then I try to find an answer and I can’t. Will things get better?
I was so looking forward to seeing games again but now I think I need a break. Is this what an existential crisis looks like?
Don’t forget that we picked Sammy Siani over Gunnar Nemderson! The Gunner turned over in his grave after that one,.
I know ST stats done mean shit, but I’m getting excited for Carmen howeveryouspellhislastname.
I certainly wasn’t there to see it, but the way some of the scouting types talk the Mlod that Ben fell in love with on the Cape was much different than the guy they drafted.
Might be the inconsistent type, or might have unlocked that dude who was lights out on the Cape. Let’s hope for the latter!
He pitched well at AA (105 IP, 4.78 ERA, 9.48/3.42 K/BB/9) as a 23 year old in 2022, only 2 years from being drafted in 2020, which was a lost year, and after a foot injury cost him most of the 2019 season as well.
He did well in 2021 at A+, but pitched only 50 innings, so the Pirates were probably bringing him along slowly. He and Crowe have to look like innings eater bookends, and both from the U of South Carolina/SEC.
You’d describe that line at AA as pitching well? Low bar you’ve got.
My first thought, too AW.
Wilbur, we appreciate the effort, some of these games must be hard to watch.
This one wasn’t. Pitching was good.
You’re one cool cat, Wilbur.
A summary from statcast
Thank you. I like to check the MPH of the Pitchers and also the EV of the hitters regardless of result. For instance, Castro put the ball in play twice one for 101.9 and another for 94.6, but in the Box score he is 0 for 3.
Good to see Bae over 100 mph EV on one, and Reynolds also once, with Smith-Njigba just missing at 99.8 mph EV. Lolo Sanchez a HR on a 98.5 mph EV – still only 23, and one of those CF’s who plays all 3 positions (6 OF Assists at AA last year), and a BB/K of almost 1/1 (34/40).
From what I’ve seen of the OF, they badly need Swaggerty to hit.
They also badly need Suwinski to quit straining out?
I do hope they give TSwag a good run at starting in CF.