I’m only partly joking. A few hours into their spring schedule, the Pirates are already within two wins of their entire spring 2020 total. They got some good pitching and saw some good signs from a couple of hitters, and beat Baltimore in Sarasota, 6-4. They played eight innings.
Of course, some things had a familiar ring. The Pirates went 0-for-7 with RISP. (Could be worse; the Orioles went 1-for-12.) They got back to one of last year’s themes quickly. The game’s first three batters reached, loading the bases with nobody out. Colin Moran couldn’t get a run in, but fortunately, Trey Mancini threw away Gregory Polanco’s roller to let in two runs. In the second, the Bucs again loaded the bases, this time with one out, but Ke’Bryan Hayes and Bryan Reynolds stranded the runners.
The third was more fun. After Moran reached on another Oriole error, Polanco went oppo, making it 4-0. The Bucs picked up single runs in the fourth and fifth. Kevin Newman, who was 2-for-2 with a walk, singled and scored on a double by Hayes. And Todd Frazier went deep in the fifth.
The Pirates used eight pitchers for one inning each: Chad Kuhl, Wil Crowe, Sam Howard, Clay Holmes, Nick Mears, Carson Fulmer, James Marvel and Shea Spitzbarth. The pitching was another reminder of last year, to an extent. The Bucs fanned ten but walked seven. They gave up only four hits, two each by Kuhl and Fulmer.
Kuhl had a shaky start to his inning, giving up a pair of singles to put runners at the corners with nobody out. But he fanned the next three hitters. Crowe had a similar beginning, walking the first two he faced and, after a ground out, finding runners at second and third with one out. But he fanned the next hitter and got a ground out.
Howard and Marvel each allowed an unearned run. Howard’s came on a two-base bumble by Polanco after a two-out walk. Marvel walked the first two batters he faced in the seventh, then nearly got out of it, but Mason Martin missed a throw from Kevin Kramer with two out to let in a run.
Holmes, Mears and Spitzbarth all had pretty uneventful innings, although Mears had the team’s only perfect frame. Holmes and Spitzbarth each got a double play ball after a walk. The other two runs came when Fulmer gave up a two-out single and then a home run, the latter by Yusniel Diaz.
Lots of prospects got in the game. Aside from Martin, Oneil Cruz, Travis Swaggerty, Rodolfo Castro, Ji-Hwan Bae and Cal Mitchell all came on in the late innings. They all went 0-for-1.
Tomorrow, the undefeated Pirates head up to Dunedin to face the Jays.