First Split-Squad For Pirates Yields Split Results Against Orioles, Rays

Photo Credit: Elaine Litherland (Herald-Tribune)

The Pittsburgh Pirates participated in their first of two split-squad scrimmages of the spring training season.  While half of the squad was off to Port Charlotte to take on the Tampa Bay Rays, the other half stayed in Bradenton for a game against the Baltimore Orioles.
Pirates Vs. Orioles
Paul Maholm was given the opportunity to be the first pitcher the O’s faced in t heir spring training opener.  Unfortunately for the Buccos, the Orioles would win their opening game of the spring by the score of 6-4.
Maholm was able to get through the two innings he was scheduled to pitch, even though he gave up two runs.  The potential opening day starter for the Pirates allowed four hits and struck out two.
“I felt pretty comfortable,” Maholm said after the game. “I didn’t throw any breaking balls.  I was a little jumpy and left some over the plate, but the first time in spring, that happens.”
Two potential bullpen candidates for the Pirates, Jeff Karstens and Tyler Yates, did not allow a run while on the mound for the Buccos.
Pittsburgh batters were unable to produce against Orioles’ starter Brad Bergesen, who in two innings of work, only allowed one base runner and struck out two.  It wouldn’t be until the fifth inning that the Buccos were able to score a run on Lyle Overbay’s first home run of the spring.  The two teams then traded runs in the sixth inning, as the O’s Craig Tatum singled ina  run off Jeff Locke, while Jose Tabata scored on an error by Baltimore second baseman Brendan Harris.
Pirates Vs. Rays
The Pirates only managed six hits against the Rays on Monday, but it proved to still be enough as timely hitting and impressive pitching down the stretch earned the Buccos their second victory of the spring, 6-5. 
Garrett Atkins, starting at first base for the Pirates, shined on Monday, going 1-3 with 1 HR and 3 RBI.  While not one Pirates’ player had a multi-hit game, Josh Fields made his one base hit count, driving in a run in the 4th inning.
Buccos’ starter Bryan Morris pitched adequately, giving up one run on two hits, while striking out one through two innings of work.  Unfortunately, the same could not be said about Fernando Nieve, who was lit up in his single inning of work on Monday, giving up three runs on five hits. 
After getting behind early 4-0, the Pirates’ offense exploded in the 4th inning.  Fields’ RBI single started things off, driving home Neil Walker to get the Buccos on the board.  Then, with Fields and Matt Diaz on base, Atkins hammered the ball to left field and out, tying the game 4-4.  The inning’s festivities concluded with a passed ball by John Jaso, allowing Alex Presley to scamper home, giving the Pirates the lead.
Despite a 6th inning RBI double by the Rays’ Justin Ruggiano, the Pirates came back again the very next inning.  With Gorkys Hernandez batting, a wild pitch by the Ray’s Jake McGee allowed Chris Snyder to score.
Again, while the offensive firepower wasn’t there for the Pirates on Monday, they did enough to win the ballgame.  Whether it’s hitting the ball out of the yard five times or taking advantage of the other team’s mistakes, which was the case against the Rays today, the Pirates found a way to win.  Even though it’s a Spring Training contest, these are important lessons to learn, especially for a young club like the Buccos.
Pittsburgh will host the New York Yankees on Tuesday at 1:05pm.  James McDonald will make his first start of the spring and is scheduled to throw two innings.  Many of the Pirates’ regular position players will have the day off, which will give players such as Atkins, Andy Marte, and Josh Rodriguez more opportunities to show the coaches they deserve to make the trip to Pittsburgh for the start of the regular season.
As Always…
Let’s Go Bucs!

Chad Carlson

Co-Editor of Fans From The Stands, Pirates' Beat Writer For Armchair Report, Sports writer for AMN, SteelTownRock And Music City Encore Editor

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