Red Sox 3, Pirates 2
You can read more on Paul Maholm’s start on the pirates.com shortly, so we’ll leave him out of the post-game blog pitching rundown. Let’s break the rest of the day’s pitchers into three Spring Training-centric categories for the heck of it:
Helped his cause: Javier Lopez.
- He breezed through his one inning of relief and has now made four scoreless appearances this spring. As the only lefty reliver on the 40-man roster, Lopez was already expected to be in the Opening Day bullpen before Spring Training began. At this point, that seems like a lock barring any unexpected step back.
Hurt his cause: Chris Jakubauskas.
- Jakubauskas has had two strong relief appearances and two very rocky ones. On Saturday, he faced five hitters and was only able to get one of them out. The final total: three runs, three hits, one walk. The Pirates were eyeing Jakubauskas as a long-relief candidate, but his start-to-start inconsistency is probably room for concern. And there are other possible long relievers who have done better.
Somewhere in between: Jack Taschner. D.J. Carrasco. Anthony Claggett. Jeremy Powell.
- Taschner escaped a precarious bases-loaded jam with the help of a key strikeout of Jacoby Ellsbury. It wasn’t an entirely pretty inning for Taschner, but he got the job done. Carrasco walked two, but still has not allowed a run this spring (six innings). Claggett helped end the inning that Jakubauskas started, though there was nothing spectacular that stood out about his performance. Powell got out of some trouble and pitched a scoreless eighth, but he is not expected to be in the mix for a bullpen spot out of camp.
Based on comments from GM Neal Huntington earlier this week, it’s hard to see Delwyn Young not making the team on the bench. But he’s taking no chances.
Young boosted his batting average this spring to .300 with a solo homer in the sixth. The home run was his team-leading second. Young doesn’t have a shot at earning a starting job at the beginning of the year, but his bat is certainly an asset off the bench.
“He’s swinging the bat really well,” manager John Russell said. “He did a nice job for us last year. He’s a dangerous hitter. Having him around, there’s a chance to really solidify our bench. The guy can really hit.”
And in case you missed Huntington’s recent comments about Young, here they are:
On playing second base: “It’s night and day compared to where he was in July when he first started playing the position and even in August. Significantly ahead of where he was. He’s very capable of filling in there if Aki [Iwamura] needs a day here or there.”
On his bat: “His right-handed swing looks better this year. He was very left-handed dominant last year. The right-handed swing looks better this year, which is an intriguing element that he brings. It’s fun to watch him take at-bats. It’s a great option to have off the bench. He’s still got to get to Opening Day and earn that, but he does some things that helps a manager win games.”
That last sentence sure does hint that Young would have to play his way off the team, even though the Pirates maintain he’s in competition.
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