As someone who doesn’t expect meaningful baseball from any team until, say, July, I find myself here, reporting on the Pirates’ third spring training game and home opener at LECOM Park yesterday.
The Bucs experienced their first loss of the season to the Tigers, 6-1.
Is here where I mention that the game was only five innings long? It was. I guess MLB thought, “well, it’s early in spring training. Do people really want to sit there and watch nine innings’ worth of batting practice?”
The Pirates did have a starting lineup that resembled one we could see in the regular season, with the exception of Travis Swaggerty, who replaced Jared Oliva after he was a late scratch due to lower back tightness. Not that it mattered because Swaggerty didn’t get a hit. Nor, really, did anyone else.
Okay, Ke’Bryan Hayes popped a nice-looking double that, like many Pirates extra-base hits as of late, didn’t lead to anything. The other hit—and sole Bucs run—came courtesy of Todd Frazier. The Toddfather, who’s becoming a bit of a hero in Bradenton, put one over the left-field wall in the fourth inning. Kevin Newman walked once. So did Oneil Cruz and Frazier. That was it for baserunners.
Of course, it would not be a 2020s Pirates game without a TOOTBLAN, which got started by Hayes, who wasn’t paying attention and forced Newman off third, where he was easily tagged. Good thing baserunning errors don’t count against a player in the Gold Glove voting (I think).
JT Brubaker started the game for the Bucs, and other than dishing up a homer to the Tigers’ Willi Castro, which gave him the loss, he looked okay. Cody Ponce also looked good in his inning of work. The same could not be said for Sean Poppen, who inspired many name-related jokes among the BD Commentariat because he was dishing out hits left and right. Braeden Ogle reminded us why he’s still at Greensboro, and Max
Krammit Krasnick didn’t fare well either. However, Andrew Susac’s combination of bobbling and poor positioning was an error that didn’t help.
Much like the Pirates, the Tigers’ recent poor play has led to a large number of high draft picks. However, they’re a bit farther along in the development process, and it showed in both offense and defense. So there’s some hope for everyone.
In the meantime, it was a lovely day, and people were obviously relishing being out in the sun watching baseball.
Yes, even super-early spring training Pirates baseball.