Yes, it’s still spring training.
No, the Boston Red Sox did not see fit to let the majority of their regular starters play.
So? Winning is still fun, as the Pirates proved by beating the Red Sox 6-2 at LECOM Park this afternoon.
Mitch Keller took the mound for the Bucs, hoping to continue his recent success. So how’d he do? Well, in four innings he gave up five hits and one wild pitch, but he struck out four and got out of trouble a couple of times. Jason Mackey of the Post-Gazette, with commentary from Mitch:
AB of spring, in my opinion, came in the 4th today. Mitch Keller vs. Rob Refsnyder. See below for sequence and explanation.— Jason Mackey (@JMackeyPG) March 29, 2022
Why I like it: Last year, Keller would've screwed around with offspeed and might've hung it. Not now. He's confident and just pumped high heat past a guy. pic.twitter.com/8GixdZvgNQ
This was my first time seeing Mitch this spring, and one thing I immediately noticed was that he didn’t get flustered after a hit. It’s never been about his ability, but his headspace, and I liked what I saw.
The Bucs got on the board first in the bottom of the second, courtesy of Hoy Park:
In the fourth, Sox starter Nick Pivetta walked Greg Allen and Park back-to-back. After a mound visit by Alex Cora, he struck out Cole Tucker, but Roberto Perez, who’d been miked up, decided to make things exciting:
Come for the mic'd up, stay for the hit. pic.twitter.com/1Gv3fHcVUK— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) March 29, 2022
In the fifth came Daniel Vogelbach, or, as the BD Commentariat has nicknamed him, VogelBOOM:
When you hear that horn, you know it's a good thing. pic.twitter.com/Uwrj9s43IN— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) March 29, 2022
In the sixth inning, Allen, aka the Good AL Outfielder, got hit by reliever Jake Diekman. He stole second. And third. Tucker walked, and then came Kevin Newman, he of the hot springs that aren’t located in Arkansas:
Kevin Newman destroyed that baseball!! pic.twitter.com/JCbFB09gCm— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) March 29, 2022
Alas, no shutout, for in the ninth inning Ceddanne Rafaela nailed a two-run dinger off NRI Austin Brice, but the damage was done and the Jolly Roger was raised.
NOTE: Anyone hoping that the Oneil Cruz Era had begun in Pittsburgh will have to wait, as it was announced after the game that Cruz has been optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis. Your day will come, young Cruz—just not yet.