The Pirates mostly played well against Boston, but a six-run sixth inning cost them a 7-4 loss. It might also have added some clarity to the bullpen situation. The loss drops the Bucs under .500 for the spring, at 12-13-1.
On a related note, the Pirates optioned Tyler Bashlor today. Combined with Todd Frazier’s departure, they now have 35 players in camp.
Chad Kuhl and Wil Crowe each took two innings, throwing 32 and 28 pitches, respectively. With the game set for seven and a half innings — they ultimately played just seven — it seemed like Kuhl and Crowe could handle it by themselves, but there’s obviously some workload-management plan we’re not privy to.
Kuhl’s start was a Tale of Two Innings. They can be summarized easily: In his first inning, he threw nine of 13 pitches for strikes, in his second, eight of 19. The second started with two walks and an RBI single, and Kuhl was all over the place. He settled back down after that, although he was helped by Michael Perez throwing out a runner at third trying to advance when a pitch got away. When he’s ahead in the count, Kuhl is tough, alternating among a mid-90s fastball, upper-80s slider and lower-80s curve.
Crowe gave up just a hit and a walk, and no runs, but there were some loud outs. He was saved a run by Anthony Alford laying full out, making a diving catch of a drive in left-center. Crowe is too Josh Fogg-y for me, with the borderline, low-90s fastball that he has to keep away from the hitting zone, and a pretty good slider.
On to the bullpen . . . . Clay Holmes is now 9-for-9 in scoreless spring outings. Nine pitches, three ground outs. Not really sure how they can leave him off the roster.
Then came Geoff Hartlieb. Not good. He threw 27 pitches, 14 strikes. Lots of hard contact, producing five singles. (Even on a bad day, Hartlieb is hard for hitters to elevate the ball against.) Hartlieb wasn’t helped by Alford losing another routine fly ball in the sun. Alford also got charged with an error in the inning when he Goodwinned a routine single, letting a runner score. This looks like a pattern forming with Alford: brilliant plays alternating with teeth-gnashers. Anyway, Hartlieb recorded only one out and six runs scored.
Chasen Shreve came on for the last two outs, although two runners scored while he was in. Perez accounted for the last out by catching a runner stealing. I can’t see going with Shreve over Sam Howard. Shreve is the “safer” pick and I’m not a huge Howard fan, but I think the slider and a bit more velocity give Howard more upside.
David Bednar was last up. One inning, three more Ks. He did give up a double. Bednar didn’t mix his pitches as much as the other time I saw him. He mostly pumped 97s, because . . . why not? The Sox couldn’t hit them. The double came on a splitter. Bednar got two Ks on fastballs and one on a mid-70s curve. I really don’t see how they can leave him off the roster. With Blake Cederlind having Tommy John, Bednar has the most closerly stuff of any of their relievers. The Pirates deserve credit for getting him included in the Musgrove deal, but somebody on the Padres found him in the 35th round. Hire that guy.
On the offensive side, the Pirates did their singles-hitting thing, getting plenty of hits but stranding 12 in seven innings. Kevin Newman had hits his first three times up, and then some crisis actors staged a fake out so he only officially went 3-for-4. Bryan Reynolds officially went 3-for-3. Dustin Fowler played a couple innings at first, which in its own odd way probably indicates he’s going to be on the team. I think the position players are set, with Fowler, Phillip Evans, Erik Gonzalez and Perez as the bench, although Derek Shelton insists there’s a chance they’ll carry 13 hitters. I can’t see that unless they make a waiver claim or something.