by Zane Heiple
|Photo by pirates.com|
Consistency is what the Pittsburgh Pirates need if they want to build on the success of last season. So far this spring the Pirates starting pitching has been just that, it is their offense that has been sporadic during the month of March. Today was no different as the Buccos fell to the Tampa Rays 2-1.
Jeff Karstens was on the mound to start the day and continued to prove that last year was not a fluke. He would pitch five innings allowing one run on three hits with five strikeouts and three walks. With today’s performance he has lowered his ERA this spring to 1.13. James Shields went for the Rays and was even more impressive than Karstens. He would go six innings allowing one run on four hits while striking out seven. Joel Hanrahan would give up one run in his inning of work while striking out three batters. Jason Grilli would go two innings and Ryota Igarashi would pitch one inning, with neither pitcher allowing a run to score.
While both teams struggled at the plate, none of the Pirates would have multiple hits. Their only run of the day came in the sixth inning when Andrew McCutchen would go deep with his first home run of the spring. Tampa’s first run would come from a Luke Scott solo home run in the fifth and then would take the lead for good with one run in the sixth. Pedro Alvarez continued to struggle as he would go 0-3 with three strikeouts and see his batting average drop to a measly .174
While it is impossible to average the 14 runs per game that they did on Wednesday and Thursday, it would be nice to see the Pirates average around five runs a game over the next few weeks before heading north. It will not matter how effective the pitching staff is, if the offense can not give them run support.
The Pirates will play the Minnesota Twins for what seems like the millionth time this spring in Fort Myers. Charlie Morton will head to the mound for Pittsburgh as he looks to regain his form following off-season hip surgery. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05.
Grapefruit League Record: 6-8
Let’s Go Bucs!