Rays 9, Pirates 5

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

The Grapefruit League is officially underway, as is my countdown to Opening Day. (It’s at 34, if you’re playing along at home). A few housekeeping items to give you an idea of how I anticipate using the blog during the next month of exhibition games…

Expect there to be a pregame blog entry every morning that includes lineups as well as any news that comes out of the clubhouse that morning. Some days will be full of early-morning news (think: cut days). Others, not so much.

In addition to an early blog, you can look for a postgame, as well. Now, I am going to write up a number of game-related items for the Bucs Beat (which you will find each evening on pirates.com). That should serve as your primary content, and I’ll fill in the loose ends here with any other observations that I found notable.

In today’s Beat, you’ll find notes about the lineup (Is Clint Hurdle going to bat Jose Tabata at leadoff?), fifth starter competition (How did Brad Lincoln/Charlie Morton look?) and a fun note about former Vanderbilt teammates squaring off (Did Pedro Alvarez get the better of David Price?). You will also find a feature on Daniel Moskos, and his aim at winning a spot on the Opening Day roster.

I’m not going to rehash any of that information on the blog, but I will supplement it with the following…

***

There is so much work done in Spring Training on pickoffs, and the Pirates wasted little time executing one to perfection on Saturday. It was obvious that Brad Lincoln had his eye on Rays infielder Sean Rodriguez almost as soon as he advanced to second in the third inning. Lincoln threw to the base once and bluffed on another turn toward the bag. He saw shortstop Ronny Cedeno sneak over again and got Rodriguez easily on try No. 3.

“It was the right timing, and I was fortunate enough to make a good throw,” Lincoln said. “It got me out of a big situation right there.”

At the time, Tampa Bay had runners at first and second with two out and Johnny Damon at the plate.

Don’t think the perfect execution was lost on anyone in the dugout either. Coaches were visibly pumped up as Rodriguez was called out. Little things like that make an impression at this time of the year.

***

It got ugly here late in Saturday’s game, as the Pirates allowed seven runs in the Rays’ final two innings at the plate. Two things, in particular, stood out:

  • Daniel McCutchen had a chance to get out of the seventh without allowing a run to score and jumped ahead, 0-2, to Robinson Chirinos. But his 0-2 offering missed, and Chirinos punished it for a three-run double.
  • The Pirates had a chance to get out of the eighth without a run scoring, but Josh Fields’ inability to cleanly field a grounder gave the Rays an extra out to play with. Four runs ended up scoring in the frame.

Results really mean little in Spring Training, but executing on these little things are always a point of emphasis and won’t earn you brownie points with the manager if the mistakes become a pattern.

***

Up Next: The Pirates will have their home opener at McKechnie against this same Rays team at 1:05 p.m. The following pitchers are scheduled to throw: Kevin Correia, Brian Burres, Joel Hanrahan, Joe Beimel, Jose Veras, Tony Watson and Chris Leroux.

The game will be broadcast back in Pittsburgh on 104.7 FM. It will also be available on the Pirates Radio Network.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

2 Comments

Great blog Jennifer. I am really looking forward to your early pregame posts with lineups and news. I hope this will be for the regular season too! :)

Great job, thanks for all the great stuff!

Looking forward to your Blog this season. As a lifelong Bucco’s fan, i appreciate your comments and reporting. Thanks for a great job.

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