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Spring Training Recap: Pirates 5, Twins 2

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LECOM Park witnessed two rarities today.  For one, the Pirates won a game.  They beat Minnesota, 5-2, to vault their spring record to 2-5-2.  For another, the crowd was actually rooting for the Pirates.

Starter J.T. Brubaker was impressive.  After a leadoff single, he took the next nine batters apart, four on strikes.  He had his secondary stuff, especially the slider, working well, and it made his sinker much more effective.

Probably coincidentally, after the possible injury to Jarlin Garcia, three of the lefty hopefuls appeared for an inning each.  Jose Hernandez and Angel Perdomo were shaky, command-wise.  They each started by serving up a dinger, to the same guy no less.  In the end, the stuff overcame the dubious command and there was no more damage.  A third lefty, Caleb Smith, also had trouble throwing strikes but had a 1-2-3 inning anyway.

Colin Holderman appeared in between Hernandez and Perdomo.  He needed eight pitches.  His name is the one that usually seems to come up in response to the question, Who’s standing out this spring?  I heard that again today.  Holderman has to be the odds-on favorite to set up David Bednar.  Duane Underwood, Jr., also had an uneventful inning apart from hitting a guy.

Dauri Moreta finished.  He gave up a leadoff walk, which is one of the most annoying things that can ever happen in sports.  (The walkee was recent Pirates’ minor league rule 5 loss Yoyner Fajardo.)  Moreta also gave up a single, but fanned two and escaped with no damage.  He again threw more changeups and sliders than sinkers.

The hitters did enough.  The infield competition was variable.  Rodolfo Castro, starting at third, went 2-for-3.  One hit was a bloop.  The other ended a nice at-bat.  He fell behind 0-2, but stayed with the pitch and hit an RBI single up the middle.  (You remember singles up the middle, right?  They’re baa-aack.)  Ji-Hwan Bae was 0-for-3.  Chris Owings went oppo for a two-run shot.  He’s probably been set in stone all along as the requisite sub-replacement veteran and he’s not hurting himself.

The outfield competition was represented by Jack Suwinski, starting in center again, and Cal Mitchell.  They each went 1-for-3.  Suwinski struck out his first two times up, then doubled.  Mitchell had a two-run single.

Among the mass substitutions, Drew Maggi, the spring’s hottest hitter, had a swinging bunt single.  Andres Alvarez lined a double to left.

Andrew McCutchen got hit on the hand by a pitch and left, but reports now are that he’s fine.  The umps called it a foul ball because a ball hitting flesh sounds just like one hitting wood, if you’re a space alien.  Henry Davis replaced Cutch and had the fun of drawing a one-pitch walk.  Davis batted once and hit a laser right at the shortstop.

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Wilbur Miller
Wilbur Miller
Having followed the Pirates fanatically since 1965, Wilbur Miller is one of the fast-dwindling number of fans who’ve actually seen good Pirate teams. He’s even seen Hall-of-Fame Pirates who didn’t get traded mid-career, if you can imagine such a thing. His first in-person game was a 5-4, 11-inning win at Forbes Field over Milwaukee (no, not that one). He’s been writing about the Pirates at various locations online for over 20 years. It has its frustrations, but it’s certainly more cathartic than writing legal stuff. Wilbur is retired and now lives in Bradenton with his wife and three temperamental cats.

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