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

End of 7: Braves 5, Pirates 4

Pittsburgh catcher Francisco Cervelli prepares to hit in the bottom of the sixth inning against the Atlanta Braves on Thursday at McKechnie Field. JASON DILL/ 

The Atlanta Braves lead the host Pirates on the strength of a first inning barrage. The Bravos put five past starter Vance Worley, who then settled into the game and retired 13 in a row at one point. The highlight of the frame was a two-run home run by Chris Johnson.
Meanwhile, the Pirates have steadily clawed their way back. Runs in the first, third, fourth and fifth innings have resulted in a one-run deficit.
Andrew McCutchen, who shredded his dreadlocks for charity, delivered an RBI single in the third inning. Josh Harrison (first inning) and Neil Walker (fifth inning) have solo homers for the Bucs.

- Jason Dill

Braves vs. Pirates

Fans take their seats at Thursday's Atlanta Braves and Pittsburgh Pirates' Grapefruit League game at McKechnie Field in Bradenton. JASON DILL/

Today's Grapefruit League game at McKechnie Field could see the attendance mark shattered. The all-time record of 93,433 was set in 2013. Through 12 home games this spring, the Pirates have sold out six of them and have amassed 87, 242 fans this month.
Good weather and strong opponents mixed the the Bucs becoming a playoff contender the past two seasons have aided the spring attendance numbers in 2015.
There are three home games remaining on the docket, and the first one is today's encounter with the Atlanta Braves.
It's the lone time Atlanta travels to McKechnie Field.
Here are the two lineups today:

Atlanta Braves

Eric Young Jr. CF
Jace Peterson 2B
Alberto Callaspo 3B
Jonny Gomes LF
Christian Bethancourt C
Kelly Johnson RF
Chris Johnson 1B
Andrelton Simmons SS
Wandy Rodriguez LHP

Pittsburgh Pirates

Josh Harrison 3B
Neil Walker 2B
Andrew McCutchen CF
Corey Hart RF
Starling Marte LF
Jordy Mercer SS
Pedro Alvarez 1B
Francisco Cervelli C
Vance Worley RHP

- Jason Dill

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Final: Orioles 9, Pirates 2

BRADENTON -- It was an ugly one for the Pirates, whose bullpen struggled from its first action and whose offense was never able to piece together consistent hits.

After Jared Hughes' five-run implosion in the fourth inning, Pittsburgh could never recover and fell to the Orioles 9-2 at McKechnie Field.

There were few bright spots for the Bucs, as even their first run was scored when outfielder Jaff Decker grounded into a double play. Second baseman Neil Walker provided the Pirates' only RBI with a sixth-inning single too drive in utility man Josh Harrison. By then, Pittsburgh was down 7-2.

The Bucs allowed runs in the fourth, sixth and seventh innings and after Radhames Liz began the game with three shutout innings only three of the Pirates' last six pitchers escaped the game without allowing a run.

Stolmy Pimentel was the best of that group of relief pitchers, tossing two scoreless frames while allowing just one hit and one walk.

End 4: Orioles 5, Pirates 0

BRADENTON -- A sloppy fourth inning has things going poorly for the Pirates against the Orioles at McKechnie Field.

After three scoreless innings, former Pittsburgh slugger Steve Pearce crushed a leadoff, solo home run to left field. And that was just the start. Baltimore brought all nine of its batters to the plate during a disastrous fourth inning for relief pitcher Jared Hughes and the Bucs to bust the game open before its midway point.

The O's started off with four straight hits by Pearce, Jimmy Paredes, Delmon Young and Chris Davis and were aided by some poor Pirate defense to push the second run across the plate. Paredes hit was a standard single up the middle, but Young's single was the result of a miscommunication between Jung-ho Kang and Pedro Alvarez. Neither infielder committed to the ball and it blooped in for a single in front of the two fielders. A third consecutive single brought Paredes in from second base.

A Ryan Lavarnway groundout brought Young open before Everth Cabreera and Ryan Flaherty singled to knock Hughes from the game and complete the Orioles' five-run frame.

Orioles vs. Pirates

(Update: David Lough has been scratched. The Orioles lineup has been updated.)
BRADENTON -- After a nearly two-week absence, Andrew McCutchen is back in the lineup for the Pirates when they host the Orioles at 1:05 p.m. at McKechnie Field on Tuesday. The outfielder, who has been sidelined with "lower body soreness" and last played on March 12 against the Red Sox, is batting third and playing center. Radhames Liz is getting the start for Pittsburgh and the Pirates are also planning to use Jared Hughes, Rob Scahill, Blake Wood, Stolmy Pimentel and Josh Wall in relief.

Baltimore Orioles
Alejandro De Aza - LF
Steve Pearce - RF
Jimmy Paredes - 3B
Delmon Young - DH
Chris Davis - 1B
Ryan Lavarnway - C
David Lough - CF
Everth Cabrera - 2B CF
Ryan Flaherty - 2B
Paul Janish - SS

Ubaldo Jimenez - SP

Pittsburgh Pirates
Josh Harrison - 3B
Gregory Polanco - RF
Andrew McCutchen - CF
Neil Walker - DH
Starling Marte - LF
Pedro Alvarez - 1B
Jordy Mercer - SS
Jung-ho Kang - 2B
Tony Sanchez - C

Radhames Liz - SP

-David Wilson

Saturday, March 21, 2015

BRADENTON -- We've got another tie at McKechnie Field.

For the third time this spring, the Pirates tied an opponent, drawing the Red Sox 2-2 in nine innings. Francisco Liriano overwhelmed Boston for the first four innings and both teams' bats woke up in the later innings to leave McKechnie with a draw.

The Sox were the first on the board during the fifth inning when Allen Craig drove Rusney Castillo home on a single to left, but by the end of the seventh Pittsburgh seized the lead.

First, a single by Corey Hart scored Starling Marte to tie the game in the sixth before a squeeze play put the Pirates ahead in the seventh.

With Gorkys Hernandez on third, Gustavo Nunez dropped down a bunt and Hernandez raced home. Red Sox relief pitcher Matt Barnes didn't have a play at home and settled for the out at first.

In the top of the ninth, Boston knotted the score on a single by Blake Tekkote and when Pittsburgh went quietly in the bottom half of the inning the game came to an end.

-David Wilson

End 4: Pirates 0, Red Sox 0

In his first start since being named the Pirates' Opening Day starter, Francisco Liriano mixed dominance with wildness and has Pittsburgh tied with the Red Sox after four innings.

The starting pitcher struck out six batters in four innings, but also walked three and hit one before departing. Still, the lefty limited any of the damage he brought upon himself and the Pirates are tied with Boston, 0-0.

And while the Sox haven't been able to put much together on offense, Pittsburgh had done even less until the fourth inning. Catcher Francisco Cervelli walked with one out in the second inning for the Pirates first baserunner and he was wiped out a batter later when utility man Sean Rodriguez grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.

Finally, in the fourth, Pittsburgh mounted a threat. Second baseman Neil Walker finally broke through for Pittsburgh's first hit on a single to left off Red Sox starting pitcher Wade Miley, who then hit slugger Corey Hart. After Cervelli beat out an infield single to third that loaded the bases, though, Rodriguez grounded out keep the game scoreless.

Red Sox vs. Pirates

BRADENTON -- The Red Sox are back at McKechnie Field for the second time in 10 days to face the Pirates. This time, though, they've left the heavy hitters at home with rookie outfielder Rusney Castillo as the biggest name in their lineup. 

Wade Miley is on the mound and Boston is using a designated hitter.

Red Sox lineup:
Rusney Castillo - CF
Daniel Nava - 1B
Allen Craig - LF
Garin Cecchini - DH
Jemile Weeks - 3B
Humberto Quintero - C
Jackie Bradley Jr. - RF
Deven Marrero - SS
Jeff Bianchi - 2B

Pittsburgh has Opening Day starter Francisco Liriano on the mound for the first time since he was formally announced as the starter for the opener by manager Clint Hurdle. Andrew McCutchen is out of the lineup for the eighth straight game as he continues to deal with "lower body soreness."

Pirates lineup:
Jose Tabata - RF
Neil Walker - 2B
Starling Marte - CF
Corey Hart - 1B
Francisco Cervelli - C
Sean Rodriguez - 3B
Gorkys Hernandez - LF
Gustavo Nunez - SS
Francisco Liriano - LHP

First pitch is at 1:05 p.m.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Final: Pirates 6, Phillies 5

Despite giving up two home runs in the first three innings, the Pirates staged a furious rally highlighted by Pedro Alvarez's big game in front of 6,662 fans Friday to defeat the Phillies, 6-5. The first baseman smacked two doubles and launched an opposite field home run to left field that accounted for three runs batted in.
Jose Tabata plated Sean Rodriguez with a single in the sixth inning, before Alvarez scored on a Tony Sanchez double in the eighth inning. The winning run came in the bottom of the ninth inning when Sebastian Valle had the walkoff RBI double to score Jordy Mercer.
Recently named Opening Day starter, Francisco Liriano, is slated to start Saturday's 1:05 p.m. game at McKechnie Field against the Boston Red Sox. Wade Miley is expected to start for Boston, while the Bucs are set to have closer Mark Melancon and set-up man Tony Watson also throwing.

- Jason Dill

End of 4: Phillies 3, Pirates 1

Pittsburgh pitcher Vance Worley bats in the bottom of the fourth inning at McKechnie Field against the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday. JASON DILL/

Through two home runs, the Phillies hold a 3-1 advantage through the first four innings.
Philadelphia's Brian Bogusevic and Cody Asche launched the homers. Asche's was a two-run dinger. Half of the Phillies' hits are via the long ball.
In the top of the second, Bogusevic connected on a solo homer to right field. Asche delivered his to RF, too, except he also plated Andres Blanco, who singled earlier in the top of the third inning.
Pittsburgh starter Vance Worley was also bested by Blanco's glove. Worley smoked a shot to short stop, but Blanco snagged the liner for the out in his first at-bat.
Worley also had another chance to help his own cause, but was retired with two on and two out in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Starling Marte had doubled and scored when Pedro Alvarez belted a double off the center field wall.

- Jason Dill

Phillies vs. Pirates

The Philadelphia Phillies workout before Friday's Spring Training game against the Pirates. JASON DILL/

Red shirts are arriving at McKechnie Field with the Philadelphia Phillies making the trip down to Bradenton from their spring home in Clearwater.
However, it's not a star-studded lineup that's arriving with their Keystone State rivals.

Here's how the lineups look, with the Pirates sporting a split squad today (the team is in Fort Myers to play the Twins):

Philadephia Phillies

Jordan Danks CF
Cord Phelps 2B
Cody Asche 3B
Darin Ruf LF
Brian Bogusevic RF
Russ Canzler DH
Chris McGuiness 1B
Cameron Rupp C
Andres Blanco SS

Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez SP

Pittsburgh Pirates

Steve Lombardozzi LF
Jordy Mercer SS
Gregory Polanco RF
Neil Walker 2B
Starling Marte CF
Pedro Alvarez 1B
Tony Sanchez C
Sean Rodriguez 3B
Vance Worley RHP

Worley SP

- Jason Dill

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Final: Pirates 8, Tigers 7

A sellout crowd of 9,018 was the largest in McKechnie Field's 93-year history, and the fans were not disappointed.
What looked like a Pittsburgh blowout turned into a narrow, 8-7 victory, thanks to a four-run Detroit ninth inning.
The Tigers, though, couldn't  push across the tying run as a double play ended the Grapefruit League night game. It's the lone night game in Bradenton this spring for the Pirates.
Tony Sanchez, Starling Marte and Willy Garcia all homered for the Bucs.
The Pirates travel to nearby Sarasota to face the Orioles at Ed Smith Stadium on Thursday.

- Jason Dill

End of 5: Pirates 3, Tigers 2

Fans pack in McKechnie Field for Wednesday's lone night home game this spring. JASON DILL/

Through the first five innings, it's been a tight Grapefruit League contest. The Pittsburgh Pirates took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning through Tony Sanchez's two-run home run. Detroit answered back with two runs in the fourth inning, the tying run came when Charlie Leesman, who was relieving Pittsburgh starter A.J. Burnett, walked Jordan Lennerton with the bases loaded.
However, Neil Walker scored the go-ahead run in the bottom of the fourth inning on a wild pitch.

- Jason Dill

Tigers vs. Pirates

The Detroit Tigers are coming to Bradenton for the lone night game at McKechnie Field, but they aren't giving the expected crowd a lineup to mirror something close to the Opening Day lineup.
Here's the starting lineups for both teams for the game beginning at 6:05 p.m. and airing on the MLB Network:

Detroit Tigers

Xavier Avery RF
Jose Iglesias SS
Ian Kinsler 2B
Tyler Collins LF
Nick Castellanos 3B
Alex Avila C
Daniel Fields CF
Bryan Holaday DH
Jordan Lennerton 1B

Shane Greene SP

Pittsburgh Pirates

Josh Harrison 3B
Jose Tabata LF
Jung Ho Kang SS
Neil Walker 2B
Starling Marte CF
Pedro Alvarez 1B
Tony Sanchez C
Andrew Lambo RF
A.J. Burnett RHP

Burnett SP

- Jason Dill

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Final: Astros 13, Pirates 7

It's a final here at McKechnie Field  with the Astros defeating the Pirates 13-7. An offensive display saw 23 combined hits between the two teams in a Grapefruit League game lasting 3 hours, 30 minutes. A total of 5,577 fans came to the St. Patrick's  Day contest, which was a season low at McKechnie Field. Houston plated nine runs over two innings to tally most of its damage. Jason Castro belted a two-run home run in the third inning and an RBI double in the fourth inning. Chris Carter added a pair of doubles in both innings, too. Neil Walker's three-run homer in the third inning was the first dinger by a Pittsburgh player at McKechnie this spring.
Pittsburgh prospect Elias Diaz (7-for-14 this spring) blooped a two-run single in the bottom of the seventh inning. He took second base on a wild pitch, but was thrown out at home plate on a single to left field. The Pirates couldn't rally any further.
Pittsburgh hosts the Tigers in the lone night game at McKechnie Field on Wednesday. The 6:05 p.m. game is broadcasted on the MLB Network and features A.J. Burnett starting opposite Detroit's Shane Greene.

- Jason Dill

End of 7: Astros 11 , Pirates 7

Pittsburgh flamethrower John Holdzkom delivers a fastball in Tuesday's game against the Astros. JASON DILL/

Well, the more offense question was quickly answered with the Houston Astros firmly taking control of this Grapefruit League contest with a five-run fourth inning.
Houston has tacked on a couple more runs and leads 11-7 through seven innings.
With both teams combining for 20 hits, the 5,577 fans in attendance today have gotten the chance to see some hitting. It's  the lowest attendance for a home game this spring at McKechnie Field, which had seen four sellouts out of the previous six games.
Pittsburgh added three runs to cut down the deficit thanks to Elias Diaz, who blooped a single to center field that plated two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning.

- Jason Dill

End of 3: Astros 4, Pirates 3

Pittsburgh catcher Francisco Cervelli gets ready for the pitch in Tuesday's game with Houston. JASON DILL/

Offensive fireworks so far here at McKechnie Field. The Houston Astros plated four runs in the top of the third inning off a double and home run. The long ball was courtesy of Jason Castro.
In the Pirates' half of the frame, Neil Walker slammed a three-run bomb to right field to account for Pittsburgh's tally.
It's 4-3 through the first third of this Grapefruit League game, with 10 hits combined between the teams. Will the offensive output continue on this St. Patrick's Day? Stay tuned in to find out.

- Jason Dill

Astros vs. Pirates

Fans wearing green for St. Patrick's Day game at McKechnie Field. JASON DILL/

It's a green day at McKechnie Field with players and fans celebrating St. Patrick's Day. Many fans arriving to the park thus far are sporting green colored T-shirts, while players from both the host Pittsburgh Pirates and Houston Astros are wearing green colored caps.
Also, today marks a return for former Bradenton Marauder Robbie Grossman, who is leading off for the Astros.
So without any more delay, here's today's lineups:

Houston Astros

Robbie Grossman LF
George Springer RF
Chris Carter DH
Jason Castro C
Matt Dominguez 3B
Jon Singleton 1B
Jonathan Villar SS
Marwin Gonzalez 2B
Jake Marisnick CF

Roberto Hernandez SP

Pittsburgh Pirates

Josh Harrison 3B
Francisco Cervelli C
Gregory Polanco RF
Neil Walker 2B
Starling Marte CF
Pedro Alvarez 1B
Jordy Mercer SS
Jaff Decker LF
Jeff Locke LHP

Locke SP

- Jason Dill

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Final: Pirates 4, Orioles 2

Despite five stellar innings of two-hit, shutout ball, starting pitcher Vance Worley will have to settle for a no decision. The Pirates, however, will take another Grapefruit League victory.

A two-run home run by former Pirate Steve Pearce knotted the score at two in the sixth inning -- you can read more about him in Monday's Bradenton Herald -- but Pittsburgh scored twice in the eighth inning to claim a 4-2 win at McKechnie Field. A Gorkys Hernandez RBI single that drove in Stetson Allie gave the Pirates the winning run.

Pittsburgh is off Monday and relief pitcher Jared Hughes suggests it's a real off day---nobody is coming to the ballpark for anything. The Pirates will be back in action on Tuesday with a 1:05 p.m. start against the Astros at McKechnie.

-David Wilson

After 5: Pirates 2, Orioles 0

The Pirates strung together some early hits in the fourth inning of the "A" game against the Orioles at McKechnie Fieldd, but only got one run in the frame to show for it.

Still, Pittsburgh leads Baltimore 2-0 after five innings.

The Pirates led off the game with consecutive doubles from infielders Josh Harrison and Neil Walker to get on the board, then chased Wei-Yin Chen with a pair of hits and a run in the fourth.

Sean Rodriguez led off that frame with a single and, after a groundout by catcher Elias Diaz moved the utility man to second, Rodriguez scored on a pinch-hit single by Tony Sanchez. With that, Chen's day was over and Harrison came to the plate with a chance to help break the game open.

But then Manny Machado did Manny Machado things. Harrison attempted a bunt, which Machado charged from third and snagged out of the air. The third baseman fired across the diamond Steve Pearce to double off Sanchez and minimize the damage.

Sanchez's pinch hit ended Vance Worley's day after five innings. The starting pitcher limited the O's to five hits and no runs despite the presence of regulars Adam Jones, Chris Davis, Jonathan Schoop, Pearce and Machado.

Pittsburgh, by the way, tied the Orioles 2-2 in the seven-inning "B" game at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota. The attendance was 19, according to the @OriolesPR Twitter account. (Only media and scouts were allowed.)

Friday, March 13, 2015

Final: Twins 8, Pirates 3

The Minnesota Twins closed out the Pittsburgh Pirates, 8-3, in front of 6,363 fans at McKechnie Field on Friday.
Minnesota used a pair of three-run innings, highlighted by two, two-run home runs en route to the victory.
Kennys Vargas and Eddie Rosario were the contributors of the homers.
Pittsburgh scored more than one run at home for the first time this spring. The Pirates hadn't accomplished the task in their previous five Grapefruit League games in Bradenton.
On Friday, the Bucs scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning.  Steve Lombardozzi scored on a wild pitch before Stetson Allie scored on a Tony Sanchez double. Sanchez later scored on Gorkys Hernandez's single.
Check out tomorrow's editions of the Herald for a story on Pittsburgh right fielder Gregory Polanco and Five Questions with Sean Rodriguez.
And be on the look out this Sunday for the next home game at McKechnie Field, when the Pirates host the Baltimore Orioles from nearby Sarasota.
The Buccos travel to Fort Myers to face the Boston Red Sox in a 1:05 p.m.  scheduled game Saturday. Gerrit Cole is slated to start opposite Boston's Henry Owens.

- Jason Dill

End of 7: Twins 8, Pirates 3

It's a hit parade at McKechnie Field with both clubs producing 21 hits through seven innings. The Twins lead 8-3 thanks to a pair of three-run innings. They scored three times in the first inning, and three more in the fifth inning. Each frame was highlighted by a two-run home run. Kennys Vargas was the culprit in the first inning, while Eddie Rosario smacked the two-run homer in the fifth inning.
Pittsburgh plated three runs in the bottom of the sixth in its lone scoring of the day so far.
Tony Sanchez doubled home Stetson Allie, then later scored on a Gorkys Hernandez single. Steve Lombardozzi scored on a passed ball, too.

- Jason Dill

End of 4: Twins 4, Pirates 0

It doesn't look like we'll have another tie between these two clubs here at McKechnie Field.
Minnesota holds a 4-0 lead through four innings. After plating three runs in the first inning, the Twins added a run in the third inning when Oswaldo Arcia singled in Jordan Schafer.
Of note: the Pirates have committed two errors so far. Minnesota has outhit the Bucs, 8-5.

- Jason Dill

End of 1: Twins 3, Pirates 0

An entertaining first inning to say the least. The Twins peeled off three runs via an error and a two-run home run. That dinger was struck by Kennys Vargas and landed over the left field wall.
In the bottom of the first inning, Josh Harrison singled off the left field wall, but was pegged out at second trying to stretch it into a double by left fielder Eddie Rosario.
Jung Ho Kang nearly put Pittsburgh on the board, but his flyball down the left field line whistled just wide of the foul pole.
It's 3-0 Minnesota after one inning at McKechnie Field.

- Jason Dill

Twins vs. Pirates

(Updated to reflect Andrew McCutchen's scratch due to lower body soreness)

For the second time this week, the Minnesota Twins are visiting Bradenton's McKechnie Field to battle the Pittsburgh Pirates in a Grapefruit League contest.
In Monday's game, the two clubs played to a 1-1 tie.
Here's a look at today's lineups:

Minnesota Twins

Danny Santana SS
Jordan Schafer RF
Trevor Plouffe 3B
Kennys Vargas 1B
Kurt Suzuki C
Oswaldo Arcia DH
Byron Buxton CF
Eddie Rosario LF
Doug Bernier 2B

Ervin Santana SP

Pittsburgh Pirates

Josh Harrison 3B
Gregory Polanco RF
Andrew McCutchen CF
Jung Ho Kang SS
Neil Walker 2B
Pedro Alvarez DH
Jung Ho Kang SS
Jaff Decker CF
Andrew Lambo 1B
Francisco Cervelli C
Sean Rodriguez LF

Casey Sadler SP

- Jason Dill

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Final: Red Sox 5, Pirates 1

It's a wrap at McKechnie as the Red Sox defeated the Pirates 5-1 in front of 8,455 fans today. That was good for the third sellout in five home games this spring and the third largest in McKechnie history.
David Ortiz and Pablo Sandoval's home runs accounted for the four-run third inning that contributed to the victory. Boston is 7-2 this spring, while the Pirates are now 4-4.
Andrew McCutchen provided the Bucs' lone run when he hit a sacrifice fly to left field in the bottom of the first inning.
Pittsburgh returns to McKechnie Field on Friday for a 1:05 p.m. scheduled game against the Minnesota Twins. It's the second time the Twins are in Bradenton this week. The two sides met last Monday, which ended in a 1-1 tie.

- Jason Dill

End of 5: Red Sox 5, Pirates 1

The Boston Red Sox exploded for four runs in the third inning and currently hold a 5-1 advantage over the Pittsburgh Pirates as we head to the later innings at McKechnie Field.
David Ortiz crushed a three-run home run to center field, and Pablo Sandoval followed up with a solo homer to right field.
Big Papi and the Panda's dingers were both off reliever Ryan Beckman, a Pittsburgh minor leaguer last season. He relieved starter A.J. Burnett, who was lifted with a couple runners on during the top of the third inning due to reaching his pitch count tally for the day.
The Red Sox also added a run in the fourth inning off Shane Victorino's double off Pittsburgh closer Mark Melancon.

- Jason Dill

End of 1: Pirates 1, Red Sox 0

Pittsburgh right-handed pitcher A.J. Burnett went through his first inning of work today with little trouble.  Meanwhile, Boston starter Clay Buchholz gave up a run, two hits and hit a batter in the bottom of the first inning.
Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen's sacrifice fly plated Sean Rodriguez, who led off with a single.
It's 1-0 Bucs through one inning at McKechnie Field.

- Jason Dill

Red Sox vs. Pirates

It's a sellout crowd here at McKechnie Field, with the exact crowd total announced later in today's Grapefruit League meeting between the Boston Red Sox and Pittsburgh Pirates.
Boston brought quite the lineup from Fort Myers for the game slated for a 1:05 p.m. start.
So without any more delay, here's a look at the starting lineups:

Boston Red Sox

Shane Victorino RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez LF
Pablo Sandoval 3B
Mike Napoli 1B
Xander Bogaerts SS
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Blake Swihart C

Clay Buchholz SP

Pittsburgh Pirates

Sean Rodriguez 2B
Jordy Mercer SS
Andrew McCutchen CF
Jung Ho Kang 3B
Pedro Alvarez 1B
Starling Marte LF
Andrew Lambo RF
Elias Diaz C
A.J. Burnett RHP

Burnett SP

- Jason Dill