Morton Pitches Six Shoutout Innings As Pirates Beat Astros

By Chad Carlson
Photo Credit: Peter Diana/Post-Gazette
The Pirates faced off against the Houston Astros this afternoon.  The Buccos were coming off a victory yesterday against the Boston Red Sox, and were looking to continue their winning ways against their N.L. Central Division foes from the lone star state.
Pittsburgh sent Charlie Morton to the mound against Houston’s Ryan Rowland-Smith.  Morton has faced scrutiny and criticism because of his performance during the regular season in past years, but no one can deny his success so far this Spring Training season.  His success would continue today as Morton pitched six shutout innings on his way to earning his first victory of the spring, as the Buccos defeated the Astros, 3-1.
Morton gave up only four hits and struck out five throughout his six innings of work today, lowering his ERA to an impressive 1.29.  Evan Meek and Chris Leroux also pitched scoreless baseball for the Buccos, while Michael Crotta gave up the only run to the Astros in the ninth inning, but held on to close the game out for Pittsburgh.  In all, the Pirates’ pitching staff gave up just five hits to Houston, which allowed them to be in control throughout the game.
While the Pirates’ offense didn’t exactly light up the scoreboard, they did just enough to get the team the victory this afternoon.  Ronny Cedeno blasted a two-run homerun in the second inning, scoring Josh Fields to give the Buccos a 2-0 lead early.  Ryan Doumit added to the lead the very next inning with an RBI triple which was deflected by Houston’s center fielder Michael Bourn, allowing Doumit to reach third base and Andy Marte to score.  That would be all the offense the Pirates would need today, as their pitching did the rest against the Astros.
With the victory today, the Buccos improve their Spring Training record to 10-14.  With another dominating performance this afternoon, Morton continues to make a strong case that he should be added to the starting pitching rotation on Opening Day.  While the opportunity is still there for the likes of Brad Lincoln and Scott Olsen, it appears as though Morton is still the leading candidate for the fifth spot in the rotation.  Regardless, it was a great performance by him today.
Other than Cedeno and Doumit, Steve Pearce had another good day at the plate for the Buccos, going 2/3 and increasing his batting average to .306 for the spring. 
One disturbing fact from today’s game was that the Pirates accumulating half as many errors as they had hits.  Four errors is unacceptable for any team, especially the Pirates as they are going to need to make the routine plays as often as possible to stay competitive with the rest of the N.L. Central and beyond.  Still it was great win for the Pirates, and they’ll look to continue their strong play tomorrow against the Minnesota Twins.
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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