Spring Recap: Pitchers Step Up Against Braves

The Pirates got a good start from J.T. Brubaker and more strong work from the bullpen in a 6-3 win over Atlanta.  The offense produced 14 hits from a dozen different players.  The Bucs are 12-10-1 this spring.

Brubaker’s start would have been outstanding except for one problem, name of Austin Riley.  In five innings, the Bucs’ starter gave up only three hits and a walk, but two of the hits were dingers by Riley.  One came after the walk, so that was three runs.  Brubaker fanned six and threw 51 of 72 pitches for strikes.  Sure, most of the Braves’ biggest bats weren’t in the lineup, but most of the hitters Brubaker faced were experienced.  If you check the video montage of Brubaker’s six strikeouts at MLB.com, you’ll see some fearsome sliders.  With the unhappy Steven Brault news, it’s an ideal time for Brubaker to step forward.

Out of the bullpen, Max Kranick appeared to have reined it in a bit from his first appearance.  He went an inning and two-thirds, and threw 15 of 25 pitches for strikes, allowing just one hit.  Braeden Ogle came on just to get the last out of the seventh.  The Pirates reassigned Ogle and Hunter Owen, who had a hit in his only at-bat today, to minor-league camp after the game.  That leaves 38 players in camp.

The last two innings went to Clay Holmes and Chasen Shreve.  Holmes took ten pitches to get two ground outs and a strikeout.  In eight games, he’s allowed five hits and three walks, and no runs, in 7.2 IP.  I’m not sure he can be counted out of the competition for opening day.  Shreve gave up just a single in the ninth.

On offense, the usual suspects kept at it.  Adam Frazier only went 1-for-3, so his average plummeted all the way to .563, but the one hit was his second home run of the spring, traveling over the walkway beyond right field.  Ke’Bryan Hayes went 2-for-3, although they were both only singles, and Kevin Newman was 2-for-2 with a double.  He’s batting .727, which is becoming something of a punch line.  Gregory Polanco ripped an RBI double through the shift.

And Nick Gonzales belted his first professional home run.  It came off A.J. Minter, who had an 0.83 ERA last year.