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Pirates roll over, lose to Red Sox 7-4

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This game, like Alford, took a dive.
Matt Freed/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

If this game had gone five innings, we’d be going on about how awesome the Pirates were today against the Red Sox. We would have raved about Kevin Newman’s continued dominance with the bat and Anthony Alford’s great play in center field to rob Alex Verdugo. We’d be talking about a Pirates win and raising the metaphorical Jolly Roger.

But it went seven and a half innings, and the sixth inning in particular ended up looking like this for the Bucs:

Almost faster than you could say “wow, Geoff Hartlieb isn’t looking too good today,” the Pirates went from a solid 4-1 lead to trailing 7-4 in the sixth inning, which ended up being the final score at LECOM Park this afternoon.

Admittedly, the Red Sox got on the board first in the second, when Chad Kuhl walked Rafael Devers and Hunter Renfroe back to back, with Devers scoring on a Marwin Gonzalez single. The Pirates, however, retaliated in the third, starting with Newman singling (again!), followed by Bryan Reynolds and Gregory Polanco doing the same. Polanco’s single scored Newman, which knocked Red Sox starter Andrew Politi out of the game. Reliever Phillips “Exxon” Valdez promptly served up another single to another Phillip, Evans, which scored Reynolds, then Polanco scored on a “Yakety Sax”-worthy error by Devers at third to score Polanco. In the fourth, Newman doubled (hi, .716 average), advanced on a Ke’Bryan Hayes lineout, and came home on another Reynolds single to make it 4-1.

Then came the sixth. Hartlieb, who came on in relief of Clay Holmes’s scoreless fifth, he of the vaunted “hasn’t given up a run in spring training” claim, made up for lost time. In short order, he gave up singles to Verdugo, Devers, and Renfroe, the last one scoring Michael Gettys, who was pinch-running for Verdugo. He walked Gonzalez, then gave up a single to Bobby Dalbec, which scored two more pinch runners. A final single to Christian Arroyo to bring home another pinch runner (I was losing count by this point) made it 5-4 Boston, and it was only then that Derek Shelton took Hartlieb out. Not that Chasen Shreve was much better—Kevin Plawecki singled, Alford made an error, and in came another pinch runner. A Guillermo Jimenez forceout brought the last pincher home.

Wow, that was ugly.

I know, it’s spring training. Hartlieb, though, was being looked at as the centerpiece of the bullpen. As the BD Commentariat was remarking, if this game had counted for something Hartlieb would have been gone long before that.

But hey, Kevin Newman is still on fire, and the Pirates got eleven hits. Can that count?