Monday, March 30, 2015

Final: Pirates 18, Phillies 4

BRADENTON -- And just like that, the Pirates are done at McKechnie Field for the year. A quick recap of the highlights from Pittsburgh's 18-4 win against the Phillies:
  • The Bucs hit six home runs, including a grand slam, to make up the bulk of  their 18-run outburst
  • Benches and bullpens emptied in the middle of the fifth inning
  • Manager Clint Hurdle and third base coach Rick Sofield were ejected. So was Philadelphia third base coach Juan Samuel.
No punches were thrown and no batters were hit, but the rest of the action is about all you can expect from a spring training brawl.

(Hurdle, by the way, was ejected for arguing balls and strikes an inning after the brawl.)

As for the actual baseball action, that game was essentially over by the time of the fight as the Pirates held an 8-0 lead. Corner infielder Pedro Alvarez stretched that lead to double digits with a two-run shot in the bottom of the fifth and after Philadelphia answered with its own two-run homer, Pedro Florimon shot one right back for Pittsburgh's next two runs before Alvarez put the final touches on the blowout with an eighth-inning grand slam.

Mid 5: Pirates 6, Phillies 0 -- and a brawl

UPDATE: Basebrawl!

Pirates utility playerr Sean Rodriguez wasn't happy about something. Neither was Phillies third base coach Juan Samuel. So the benches cleared, the bullpens emptied and not a punch was thrown -- as is typically the case. Samuel did get ejected, though, and a handful of Philadelphia players seemed like they were nearly about to get into something with Rodriguez until Pittsburgh catcher Franciscoo Cervelli held his teammate back.

Still, it was a spring training brawl. That's about all you can ask for.

BRADENTON -- The Pirates are putting on a show in their final game at McKechnie Field this year, launching home runs off poor Zach Eflin and holding the Phillies' offense in check.

Utility man Josh Harrison was Pittsburgh's first batter of the game and kicked off the home run derby with an opposite-field blast. Two innings later, Eflin's defense betrayed him and the Pirates busted the game open.

Catcher Francisco Cervelli reached on an error too start the inning and, after Eflin got two outs, outfielder Gregory Polanco singled in Cervelli. Outfielder Starling Marte, the next batter, followed that with a home run to left that put Pittsburgh up 4-0.

Another error in the fourth inning gave the Pirates a lead-off baserunner before catcher Tony Sanchez's team-leading fourth Grapefruit League home run pushed the lead to 6-0.

Meanwhile, four Pirate relievers have combined for five shutout innings. Closer Mark Melancon got the start, followed by Tony Watson and Arquimedes Caminero for an inning each and Rob Scahill for two.

Phillies vs. Pirates

BRADENTON -- The Pirates say farewell to McKechnie Field today with their final Grapefruit League home game against the in-state rival Phillies. Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin is in the house and informally spoke with manager Clint Hurdle and some of his players before the game.

Philadelphia's lineup today leaves something to be desired, although with Ryan Howard and outfielders Grady Sizemore and Jeff Francoeur it would've been formidable in the late '00s.

Philadelphia Phillies
Grady Sizemore - LF
Freddy Galvis - SS
Cord Phelps - 2B
Ryan Howard - 1B
Jeff Francoeur - RF
Cody Asche - 3B
Brian Bogusevic - CF
Rene Garcia - C
Zach Eflin - RHP

Pittsburgh Pirates
Josh Harrison - 3B
Gregory Polanco - RF
Starling Marte - CF
Neil Walker - 2B
Pedro Alvarez - 1B
Tony Sanchez - DH
Jordy Mercer - SS
Francisco Cervelli - C
Sean Rodriguez - LF

Closer Mark Melancon will start for the Bucs, who are also planning on using relievers Tony Watson and Adrian Sampson. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m.

-David Wilson

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Final: Pirates 8, Blue Jays 3

The Pirates delivered an 8-3 victory on a record-setting day at McKechnie Field. In the 93-year history of the Bradenton park, the largest total spring attendance was set in 2013. On Saturday, that figure was shattered as 6,351 fans flocked to see Pittsburgh defeat Toronto. That means the old number of 93,433 fell by the wayside as a total of 99,450 have seen the 14 home games this spring.
Gregory Polanco's two-run home run and an unusual double play when he dropped a fly ball that was ruled a catch before fumbling the transfer, catapulted the Bucs past the Jays.
Pittsburgh minor league catcher Reese McGuire delivered a pinch-hit RBI double in the bottom of the sixth inning that jump-started a four-run frame to put the game out of reach for the visiting Blue Jays.
That inning was highlighted by Neil Walker's flyball to left field that looked like a routine out. However, Toronto's Steve Tolleson drifted back instead of forward. The wind, blowing in, brought ball well short and it safely landed in left field. That allowed the bases, which were full, to clear and net Walker a three-run double.
The Pirates head to Central Florida to face the Braves for a 1:05 p.m. tilt on Sunday. Stolmy Pimentel is scheduled to start opposite Atlanta's  Shelby Miller. Pittsburgh wraps its home slate Monday against Philadelphia.

- Jason Dill

End of 6: Pirates 8, Blue Jays 3

Pirates right fielder Gregory Polanco prepares to swing in the sixth inning of Saturday's Grapefruit League game against the Toronto Blue Jays at McKechnie Field. JASON DILL/

The Pirates hold a late lead in today's Grapefruit League contest at McKechnie Field on the strength of its offense.
After Toronto took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning, Pittsburgh right fielder Gregory Polanco delivered a two-run home run in the bottom half of the first.
The Bucs haven't trailed since, regaining the lead for good after the Blue Jays tied it at 2-2 in the top of the second.

- Jason Dill

Blue Jays vs. Pirates

The all-time spring attendance record is sure to shatter today as the Pittsburgh Pirates host the Toronto Blue Jays for a 1:05 p.m. Grapefruit League tilt at McKechnie Field. There have been more than 93,000 fans that have flocked to the 93-year park to watch spring training baseball this season.
The Pirates need to draw just 334 fans to tie the previous mark and 335 to break it.
With the largest crowd ever for a home spring game at McKechnie set earlier this month against the Detroit Tigers (9,018 fans), the Pirates have tallied six sellouts in 13 home games. The Bucs are also averaging 7,161 fans per home contest thus far.
Today's game marks the final spring meeting between the two clubs. Pittsburgh leads the spring series 2-1.
Here's a look at the lineups:

Toronto Blue Jays

Steve Tolleson RF
Daric Barton DH
Dioner Navarro C
Justin Smoak 1B
Danny Valencia 3B
Caleb Gindl CF
Dayan Viciedo LF
Munenori Kawasaki 2B
Ryan Goins SS

Randy Wolf SP

Pittsburgh Pirates

Jordy Mercer SS
Gregory Polanco RF
Andrew McCutchen CF
Neil Walker 2B
Corey Hart 1B
Andrew Lambo LF
Francisco Cervelli C
Sean Rodriguez 3B
Charlie Morton RHP

Morton SP

- Jason Dill

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Final: Braves 7, Pirates 5

Atlanta's Jonny Gomes spoiled Pittsburgh's comeback attempt with a solo home run in the top of the ninth inning to break a 5-5 deadlock. The Braves added an insurance run to claim a 7-5 Grapefruit League victory. A total of 5,857 fans came to McKechnie Field on Thursday, which brings the total attendance figure to 93,099, just 334 off setting a spring home attendance record.
Atlanta erupted for five runs off Pittsburgh starter Vance Worley in the first inning. Chris Johnson capped the Braves' half of the first with a two-run home run. Worley retired 13 in a row following the blast. The Bucs received solo homers from Josh Harrison and Neil Walker, before tying the game in the bottom of the eighth inning on a wild pitch.
The Pirates head to Fort Myers for a 1:05 p.m. game against the Twins, with Jeff Locke starting on Friday. The Bucs return to McKechnie Field on Saturday to face the Blue Jays.

- Jason Dill