The Pirates picked up their first win of the spring, downing Baltimore, 7-4.
The pitching was very solid in this one, with all of the runs attributable to the defense and one pitcher over from minor league camp. Luis Ortiz had a good start, with two scoreless innings. He gave up some hard contact in the first, with two singles — both by left-handed hitters — and a hard lineout to right that ended the inning. He had a quick second inning. Ortiz was throwing 96-97 mph and wasn’t getting his slider over much, but the fastball provides a good floor.
After Ortiz, there was the usual long string of relievers, but today wasn’t a day for the bullpen competition. Two of the established relievers improved on their first outings with scoreless innings. David Bednar was throwing 94-96 mph, and wasn’t getting his secondary stuff over much. He gave up some hard contact, including a drive to the wall in center to the first batter he faced, but he allowed just one runner, on a walk.
Jarlin Garcia had the type of boring inning the Pirates probably want to see. No big radar gun readings, just ten pitches, one lineout and two dribblers. I could live with that all year.
Rob Zastryzny threw two innings . . . well, almost. The defense didn’t help him. His first inning got prolonged by a two-out throwing error by Jared Triolo. Zastryzny lost the plate after that and loaded the bases before wild pitching in a run. He got out of that, then left thee batters into the next inning. One of those reached on another throwing error, this one by Drew Maggi, who replaced Triolo at third. Hunter Stratton, who’s been in minor league camp, came on to get the third out and almost didn’t, giving up a double, homer and walk before escaping.
Two other pitchers from minor league camp appeared, with more success. J.C. Flowers and Cam Alldred each threw a scoreless inning. Flowers breezed through an easy frame, while Alldred got away with two walks in the ninth.
The only other appearance was a scoreless inning by Kyle Nicolas. His control was shaky, but he walked only one and faced only three hitters, thanks to an odd double play on a popup behind the plate. Jason Delay made a very nice catch at the dugout on the play.
The lineup featured younger players and guys competing for jobs, with the established players all getting the day off. Tucupita Marcano took his turn in the second base sweepstakes, going 1-for-2 with a walk. The one out was hit very hard. Marcano also had a fine play on a grounder up the middle.
In the outfield, Canaan Smith-Njigba also went 1-2 with a walk, the one hit being a two-run single. Chavez Young was 2-for-2 with a double, but Miguel Andujar went 0-for-3. Connor Joe, who’s sort-of part of the outfield competition, played first and went 0-for-2 with a walk.
Henry Davis started at DH and made three plate appearances, but the Orioles kept missing him, so no HBPs. He went 1-for-3.
The Pirates got some power after the usual early-spring, mass substitution in the sixth. Nick Gonzales and Delay each went deep, Delay’s a long blast down the left field line that just stayed fair. It was a good day for the backup catching competition, as Kevin Pawlecki started and looked good at the plate. He went 1-for-3 with a double and one hard-hit out.
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.
2 random things of interest likely only to me:
1) I have to continually remind myself of Marcano’s age. Because he had MLB time with the Padres, I forget he is younger (not by much) than both Castro and Bae. My brain tends to slot him more like a college draftee who has been around 3-4 years.
2) I think Flowers doesn’t get enough love as a player who I think will carve out a major league career. Not a needle moving superstar, but i just feel like he will be around for 5-9 years in bullpens.
Wilbur always has at least one good comment that makes me chuckle. Today’s was the Henry Davis comment.
I think it’s crazy that Wilbur looks like a CAT!
I won’t tell people what YOU look like. 🤣🤣🤣😂
You’ve got that backwards. Think about it. I am a wild turkey who looks like your Econ prof.