For the third time this spring the Pittsburgh Pirates felt defeat to the hands of the Toronto Blue Jays. The real story was how the key pieces of the future progressed. Even in an 8-6 loss, it still felt like a win. One of the bigger stories for the 2012 campaign was how highly-touted third basemen, Pedro Alvarez, will improve his game. Even though it was only one game, the Pirates had to have been pleased with the results they saw today.
Alvarez got the scoring started in the second, when he belted his first home run of the spring to left field. I know that should be business as usual for him, but the exciting factor was that he took a pitch and drove it the opposite way, one element Alvarez has been criticized for not doing in his brief career. The Pirates kept the scoring going in the bottom of the second when the next two batters after Alvarez, Clint Barmes and Josh Harrison, hit back-to-back doubles to give the Pirates a 2-0 lead. With two outs in the inning, leadoff man Alex Presley connecting on a single, scoring Harrison, making it 3-0..
The Pirates increased their lead to 4-0 in the bottom of the third on a solo shot by Garrett Jones. Jones is looking to be the team’s Opening Day starter at first base, but is facing some tough competition in Matt Hague. Hague finished the day 0-2.
With a 4-0 lead and Jeff Karstens cruising through the Jays lineup, it looked like the Pirates were in line for their third consecutive win. Karstens pitched three scoreless innings, allowing two hits and striking out one. The problem came once he came out of the game.
Brad Lincoln relieved Karstens in the fourth inning, and that’s when the wheels fell off. Lincoln allowed four runs on six hits in one innings work. Lincoln also walked two batters. This does not bode well for Lincoln, who is seriously being looked at to making the 25-man roster. Lincoln would more than likely fill a spot in the bullpen, if he was to make the roster.
Toronto took the lead for good in the seventh when they touched up Jeff Locke for three runs, led by a home run by Yan Gomes. Down 7-4, the Pirates tried to generate a comeback in the bottom half of the inning. After a leadoff walk to Brandon Boggs, Starling Marte continued his sensational spring, by belting a two-run home run to straightaway centerfield, pulling the Buccos to within one.
The Blue Jays would add an insurance run in the eighth off of Evan Meek to pick up the 8-6 victory.
Alvarez and Marte lead the offense on the day, both recording two hits and a home run. Harrison also finished strong, going 2-2 with a run and RBI. Harrison is fighting for the backup infielder spot on the roster.
The Pirates will return to action tomorrow when they travel to Clearwater to take on the Philadelphia Phillies. Lefty Cole Hamels is expected to start for the Phillies. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m
Photo published by daylife.com
About the Author
Written by Drew Karpen
I am a graduate from Clarion University. I am currently the beat reporter for WVU football at ovathletics.com. I work part time as a stringer at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and as a producer at WJPA radio station. I also have my weekly column on ovathletics.com. I am from Pittsburgh and my favorite team is the Pirates.