In an MLB spring training interleague matchup on Saturday, the Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the visiting Tampa Bay Rays by a score of 7-5 at LECOM Park (formerly known as McKechnie Field) in Bradenton, Florida.
In a sign that the Grapefruit League is winding down, starting position players remained in the lineup for almost the entire game yesterday rather than exiting after the fifth inning or so as is customary in the exhibition season. Pirates starting pitcher Ivan Nova threw three innings of work, allowing five hits and two runs (both earned). Tyler Glasnow, who figures to be a starter at some point this season, pitched subsequent 3-2/3 innings, also gave up five hits and two earned runs but struck out six.
For the Rays, who had some issues on defense in the outfield, Blake Snell was on the mound for 5-2/3 innings, striking out eight batters, but allowing seven hits and four runs in the process. Pittsburgh broke a 4-4 tie and scored a decisive three runs against Rays reliever (and loser) Austin Pruitt in the seventh. Lithuanian native Dovydas Neverauskas was given credit for the win for the Pirates. Johnny Hellweg got the save.
“Will Craig, the Pirates’ 2016 first-round draft choice from Wake Forest, homered on the first pitch of the seventh to break a 4-4 tie,” the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review noted.
For the Pirates, catcher Francisco Cervelli blasted his third home run of spring training. Second baseman Josh Harrison had two doubles, and designated hitter David Freese (the game featured American League rules even though it took place at a National League venue) recorded two hits. Tampa third baseman Matt Duffy had three hits and two RBI in the contest.
Going into today’s game, the Rays are 13-15 on the 2018 spring training circuit, while the Pirates are 10-18.
In the offseason, the Pirates famously traded superstar Andrew McCutchen to the San Francisco Giants, while the Rays sent homegrown franchise cornerstone Evan Longoria to the same team.
Traded to Pittsburgh in the offseason, Corey Dickerson was in left field for the Pirates. “He is just 28 years old and figures to help the Pirates replicate some of Andrew McCutchen’s production in the outfield after they traded away the five-time All-Star and 2013 National League MVP to the San Francisco Giants this offseason,” the Bleacher Report commented about Dickerson, who had one hit and one RBI in yesterday’s game.
In the 2017 regular season, the Pittsburgh Pirates finished in fourth place with a 75-87 record in NL Central, while the attendance-challenged (and thereby revenue-challenged) Tampa Bay Rays placed third in the AL East with an 80-82 record. Although the Pirates may or may not surprise in their division, the Rays figure to be a non-factor in the competitive AL East, especially given how the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox upgraded their squads. There are persistent MLB rumors that free agent slugger Jose Bautista, formerly of the Toronto Blue Jays, could sign with the Rays, however.