Pirates Lose 8-6, to Rays in See-Saw Game

Image Credit: Pittsburgh Pirates

BRADENTON, Fla. — The Pittsburgh Pirates lost to the Tampa Bay Rays, 8-6 at McKechnie Field on Thursday.

Right-hander Jeff Karstens allowed three runs (two earned) on four hits over five innings. He walked four and struck out three in his fourth Grapefruit League start of the spring. Karstens threw 89 pitches over his five innings of work.

“Obviously you want to take the positives out of it,” Karstens said. “For me, I’m just more mad. If I give up those runs on hits, that’s one thing. But when I walk guys and I’m giving them free passes, just making my defense sit out there. That’s not something that can happen. It’s got to be one of those things that needs to be fixed. It’s got to be adjusted. I know that.”

“On the positive side, it could have been a lot worse. I could have pitched myself into a deep hole for our team to be in. There’s going to be times like that where you’re trying to throw strikes and you can’t. It’s one of those things that I’m going to go through, but it will make me better next time out.”

After pitching a scoreless first, Karstens gave up a run in each of his next two innings. With two outs in the 2nd, Karstens walked Jeff Salazar, who quickly swiped second base and scored after Chris Gimenez followed with a RBI single into left field.

The walks hurt Karstens again in the following inning. After issuing back-to-back free passes in the 3rd, Jeff Keppinger hit a RBI single to left field to tie the game at 2.

“Four free passes,” Karstens said. “That’s an extra 16 pitches. I was supposed to go six innings today. That could have been the last inning that I needed.”

“It was very uncharacteristic for him,” Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle said of his outing. “Four walks in the outing…He wasn’t sharp today. He battled.”

Karstens gave up a third run, which was unearned, in his final inning. Elliot Johnson hit a leadoff single, stole second base — the fourth off Karstens and catcher Rod Barajas in the game. Johnson then advanced to third after shortstop Clint Barmes committed an error. After striking out his next batter, Zobrist hit a RBI grounder to tie the game at 3.

“I think my release point was off. I was kind of cutting the ball,” Karstens said. “Just a lot of things. I think more mentally, I just got to focus, bear down and just really figure out what’s going on.”

“It happened. I can laugh about it now,” Karstens said. “That kind of sounds bad, that I said I can laugh about it, but I’m not going to sit here and beat myself up over it day in and day out… It’s just one of those days where you go out there, and you don’t have your best stuff.”

The Pirates and Rays played a see-saw game in the 8-6 loss at McKechnie Field on Thursday.

The Bucs were aggressive on the bases to start the bottom of the 1st inning. Alex Presley hit a leadoff single off the Rays’ righty James Shields to right field. With one out, Nate McLouth hit a grounder to second, which took a bad hop and reflected off Ben Zobrist’s glove for an error. Presley advanced to third base after the ball rolled into right field.

For the first time of the spring, the Pirates pulled off a double steal. Presley swiped home — his fourth stolen base of the spring — as McLouth took second base. Yamaico Navarro followed with a RBI single into left to plate the second run.

However, bad base running came in the second inning after a solid first inning on the base paths. Nick Evans reached on an infield hit to start the frame. Rod Barajas ripped a ball off the wall in left field, but was thrown out at second trying to stretch it into a double. Evans was picked off third.

After just missing a home run by a few feet in the 2nd inning, Rod Barajas took an 0-1 pitch over the wall in left for a solo-homer in the 4th. It was the first of the spring for Barajas.

The Pirates tacked on another run in the 5th frame off Shields. With one out, Clint Barmes singled and scored on a RBI double to the warning track in left center field by Nate McLouth. He was picked off second base, however, the second pick off by the Pirates in the game.

Yamaico Navarro, who went 3-for-4 on the day, took a 1-1 pitch for a bomb to left field off Shields in the 6th inning. Prior to today’s action, Navarro was batting just .059 over his past 10 games.

“He had a little bit of a struggle,” Hurdle said. “He started off extremely well. We had him trying to incorporate a little knee tuck that he had earlier that he got away from for whatever reason. He put it back into play yesterday, and I think there was some benefit today. Gave him better timing, gave him better balance at the plate. He put some good swings on the ball today. That was really good to see.”

Right-hander Jason Grilli entered the 8th inning with a 6-5 lead, but was unable to keep it intact. Grilli gave up a leadoff homer to tie the game, then a two-run single to left field to Matt Mangini. It ended his 6.0 inning scoreless inning streak this spring.

Game Notes:

  • Relief: Doug Slaten: IP, 0H, R, 0ER, 2BB; Daniel Moskos: 0.2 IP, H, R, 0ER, BB, K; Shairon Martis: 0.1 IP; Jason Grilli:
  • Yamaico Navarro went 3-for-4 with three RBI.; Nate McLouth went 1-for-3 with a RBI-double and a stolen base; Matt Hague singled as a pinch hitter and is now hitting .448 (13-for-29) in 15 Grapefruit League games.

Friday Game Info:

  • The Pirates play the Tigers in Bradenton at 1:05. Right-hander Charlie Morton is scheduled to start for the Bucs against Detroit’s righty Doug Fister. Joel Hanrahan, Daniel McCutchen, Chris Leroux and Ryota Igarashi are scheduled to follow in relief.

  • Four SBs vs. Barajas? Not too hot either.

    • And McKenry isn’t known for throwing runners out either…Could be seeing alot of runners against us this year.

  • I had a long rant yesterday about stupidity on the basepaths and today was no different.

    I just don’t know what is wrong with this organization. It seems like if you sign with the Pirates leave your common sense at the door..

  • And Pedro whiffs (twice) again….and hit his usual groundball to 2b. So much for that new stance. If he is ‘the key’ to our season, we’re in big trouble..

    • Mean while Hague is “raking” and the best support he gets from the front office is that he’s battling for a bench spot. I don’t get really understand it.