Tigers 8, Pirates 5
It was not a pretty line for LHP Zach Duke — 3 2/3 IP, 9 H, 8 ER, 1 B, 1 K. But watching him pitch, it wasn’t one of those outings that made you cringe either. Sure, way too many runners crossed the plate. But unlike Ross Ohlendorf’s recent games, Duke wasn’t particularly beat up.
He allowed seven singles, a double and a solo home run. Had Jeff Clement been able to scoop a low, bouncing throw from Bobby Crosby (who made a terrific play to even get to Ryan Raburn’s grounder in the second), Duke would have allowed three fewer runs in the inning. I’m not mentioning all this to make excuses for Duke, but simply to point out that I don’t think there is reason for concern in his results.
Duke’s next outing will come Monday as the Pirates open the season against the Dodgers.
“The important thing is I felt good,” he said afterward. “A couple pitch selections, if I could have them back, I’d take them back. But I felt fine and I’m definitely ready to go. I felt good. I felt like I got stronger as the spring went on. I feel like my pitches are crisp now and I’m right where I need to be.”
Oh, and Duke the hitter went 1-for-2 with a double. That’s three doubles in his last four at-bats for those of you scoring at home. That means Duke has as many doubles in the past week as Brandon Moss had hits (all singles) this spring.
Since I mentioned Ohlendorf’s recent struggles, I should note that manager John Russell lauded Ohlendorf’s recent side session. This is made even more of an impression on me because yesterday, bench coach Gary Varsho (unsolicited, I might add) said the same thing. Ohlendorf, who will face Philadelphia in an exhibition game on Friday has allowed 12 earned runs in his last 7 2/3 innings. Command and flatness to his pitches have been the issue.
Outfielder John Raynor got most of Wednesday off, but he did have one late-game at-bat to try and end his hitless streak. Didn’t happen. With a groundout in the ninth, Raynor is now hitless in his last 16 at-bats.
He still seems to have the upper hand for the fifth bench spot, though that’s no given considering his recent offensive woes. The Rule 5 draftee would have to be offered back to the Marlins for $25,000 if he does not make the Pirates’ Opening Day roster.
Asked about Raynor’s recent problems at the plate, Russell had this to say: “He’s still trying to keep a pretty good approach. Some of the pitchers have been pretty tough on him. We’ll see. But he’s still fighting. He’s still working hard. We’ve got a few days left, obviously. Spring Training evaluation you always take into account who they face and how things go. We’ll continue to look at it.”
I shouldn’t have to remind you, but …. four more days until Opening Day. And it looks like the weather is even going to cooperate.
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