The Pirates finished their exhibition slate with a 1-1 tie against Minnesota in a seven-inning game. That leaves them with a spring record of 13-14-2.
Yeah, spring records and all, but it has to be a better sign than going 3-18 like last year. A year ago, the Pirates looked like a team with no plan, either in a strategic sense or with individual players. This year, guys like Kevin Newman, Adam Frazier and Bryan Reynolds look like they’re taking specific steps to address shortcomings that arose last year. And the pitching staff looks like it’s loaded with guys who have some ability that maybe can or maybe can’t be exploited. Some guys won’t work out and hopefully quite a few will. They at least don’t look like guys just hanging on. With all of the pitchers, there’s some identifiable reason why they might work out.
Anyway, the scoring was all in the first inning. Ke’Bryan Hayes belted his second longball of the spring in the top half. In the bottom half, J.T. Brubaker got off to a shaky start, loaded the bases on a single and two walks. A sacrifice fly brought in one run, but also started a string of 14 straight batters retired for Brubaker. He went five innings on 74 pitches, only 50 over the last four. He allowed just the three runners and fanned four, most of that against the Twins’ regulars. So it was an encouraging way for Brubaker to finish up.
Apart from Hayes’ homer and the one hit off Brubaker, there were only two other singles in the game, both by Colin Moran. Frazier and Newman each went 0-for-2, finishing the spring at .488 and .606, respectively. Newman didn’t strike out all spring.
For the last two innings, the Pirates went with Sean Poppen and Edgar Santana. Each had a 1-2-3 inning with one K.
Day after tomorrow, it starts for real.