Pirates Fall To Blue Jays In First Spring Training Game Of 2012

Photo Credit:  http://www.rumbunter.com

By Chad Carlson
Well that could’ve gone a little better. 
The Pirates opened up Grapefruit League play today with a 7-1 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium in Dunedin, Florida.
Brett Lawrie went 2-3 and had 4 RBI’s for Toronto, while seven of their eight pitchers tossed scoreless innings, giving up only a total of two hits to Pirates’ batters.
It was a tough day for the Bucs on both ends, only tallying two hits the entire afternoon.  Both knocks occurred in the same inning, though, resulting in the only run they’d score all day.  With two outs in the fifth, Gorkys Hernandez singled to right center, stole 2nd base, and scored on Michael McKenry’s RBI single to right field.  Other than three walks, the two singles by Hernandez and McKenry were the virtually the only offense for the Pirates this afternoon.
Two of the new Pirates, Casey McGehee and Clint Barmes, combined to go 0-2, while Nate McLouth walked in the second inning.  Starling Marte had a double in the ninth inning in his only at-bat.
Overall, it was a disappointing performance by the Bucs’ pitching staff.  After a flawless first inning, starter James McDonald gave up two runs on hits and a walk in the second inning, while Chris Leroux and Daniel McCutchen gave up a run each in the fifth and seventh innings respectively.  However, after giving up a solo homerun in the sixth inning, LeRoux did strike out the side. 
Unfortunately, Tony Watson had the roughest day of all, giving up three runs on four hits in the sixth inning. 
Now the bright sides of the game:  Brad Lincoln, Chris Resop, and Ryota Igarashi each pitched an inning of scoreless ball.  With the injury to A.J. Burnett keeping him out at least two months, there is an opening to be filled, possibly by Lincoln?  We’ll see.  We’ve seen in the past that he has the ability to pitch extremely well, but the longevity and consistency of that quality pitching has been the issue.  Though it’s only an inning in one Spring Training game, it was still nice to see Lincoln pitch well today.
Andrew McCutchen, Pedro Alvarez, and Rod Barajas sat out this afternoon, so we’ll have to wait at least another day to see them take their first official at-bats of Spring Training. 
First of all, Pirates’ fans, calm down.  It’s only one Spring Training game.  Despite the loss today, it’s incredibly exciting to be talking about Pirates’ baseball once again.  As with any Spring Training, this is always optimism from players and fans alike.  Considering the excitement during the first four months of the season last year in Pittsburgh, fans are looking for the team to take the next step and complete a solid season. 
The goal for this Spring Training is progress, in every sense of the word.  While it’s always nice to win games, a Grapefruit League record means absolutely nothing to me.  This is all about the little things right now on individual levels, micro levels.  How does Charlie Morton look in his inning or two of work, and how does Pedro Alvarez look in his pair plate appearances against left-handed pitching?  Keep these in mind as we watch and discuss Pirates’ baseball this Spring Training.
The Pirates and Blue Jays will meet again tomorrow afternoon, this time at McKechnie Field.  First pitch is scheduled for 1:05pm.
Grapefruit League Record:  0-1
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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