Baseball is officially back, everyone! The Pirates opened Grapefruit League action with a split squad sweep today with wins over Baltimore in Bradenton and Rays in Port Charlotte. The Bucs outscored the Orioles and Rays 13-4 in both games.
First, the Pirates defeated the Orioles 6-2 at
McKechnie Field LECOM Park in a game where a slew of pitchers allowed just five hits and two runs over 9.0 innings. Steven Brault, Trevor Williams, Tony Watson, Felipe Rivero, Juan Nicasio, Antonio Bastardo and A.J. Schugel all tossed scoreless innings. Daniel Hudson (signed to 2-yr/$11M deal on Dec. 21) and Pat Light (acquired in trade with Twins on Feb. 9) each tossed an inning, but both allowed a run.
Gregory Polanco looked ready to go as he recorded three singles, two RBIs and stole two bases as well. Andrew McCutchen made his debut in right field and answered a long offseason of rumors and criticism with a double off the LF wall in the first inning off Orioles starter Gabriel Ynoa before scoring on Polanco’s single. McCutchen will only be in camp for about a week until he heads to play for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic. I’m very interested to see Cutch in some meaningful at-bats this spring following his down year in ’16. Adam Frazier led off and also had a couple hits. And Chris Bostick (acquired in trade with Nationals on Sept. 26) and Jin-De Jhang belted back-to-back home runs in the 8th inning to finish the scoring for Pittsburgh.
In the B game against the Rays, the Pirates exploded for a six-run 5th inning to put the Rays away. Jacob Stallings hit a solo home run, Phil Gosselin (acquired in trade with Diamondbacks on Feb. 10) ripped two doubles and two RBIs and Austin Meadows went 1-for-3 with a RBI double. Stallings went 6-for-15 in limited time with the Pirates in 2016 and spent the rest of the season in Triple-A Indy. Josh Harrison led off and went hitless in three ABs and Joey Terdoslavich added two doubles and two RBIs.
Following the first game, Hurdle broke the earth shattering news to the media that Gerrit Cole will be the team’s Opening Day starter against the Red Sox on April 3 at Fenway Park.
Full squad Buccos will make the 13-mile trek to Sarasota tomorrow to take on the Orioles at 1:05 PM at Ed Smith Stadium. Jameson Taillon is set to start the game for the Pirates and Meadows and Cutch are scheduled to both start in the OF together.