In the final game of MLB Spring Training 2018 at LECOM Park (formerly known as McKechnie Field) in Bradenton, Florida, the visiting Philadelphia Phillies defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates yesterday by the score of 6-3 in a National League match-up. Opening Day for the 2018 MLB season is Thursday, March 29.
Phillies starting pitcher — and game-winner — Vince Velasquez pitched four scoreless innings, striking out three batters and allowing three hits after flirting with a no-hitter for several frames, ESPN reported. Pirates starter Trevor Williams, who took the loss, was on the mound for 2-1/3 innings, allowing two earned runs (four overall), while striking out five batters. Reliever Tommy Bergjans got the save for the Phils.
Williams walked the very first batter of the game, Phillies shortstop J.P. Crawford, who stole second and then scored on a single by right fielder Nick Williams.
The Phillies scored all their runs in the first three innings, systematically with one in the first, two in the second, and three in the third. The Pirates, who had several defensive miscues in the contest, scored two in the bottom of the six and one in the seventh in the losing effort.
A rare steal of home, in this instance by prospect Lolo Sanchez against pitcher Edubray Ramos while the infield was in a shift for left-handed batter Colin Moran, constituted the Pirates sixth-inning run.
Former Tampa Bay Rays’ players Corey Dickerson (two hits) and Sean Rodriguez (one RBI) were in the starting lineup for the Pirates.
Versatile Phillies prospect Scott Kingery — considered a super utility player who can handle multiple positions and played third base and right field in yesterday’s game — had a big afternoon at the plate with three hits, including a home run and a double. Kingery was batting 0.402 in the Grapefruit League going into today’s action.
The Phillies just signed Kingery to a kingly six-year, $24 million deal, plus three club options.
“Kingery’s payday is a record-breaking amount for a player who has never appeared in the majors,” MLB Trade Rumors noted.
Phillies catcher Andrew Knapp also homered in Monday’s game.
Heading to the finale today of 2018’s Grapefruit League action, in which the two Pennsylvania-based teams will meet again at Spectrum Field in Clearwater, the Pirates have a 11-19 spring training record, while the Phillies are 13-17.
In 2017, the Philadelphia Phillies finished last in the NL East with a record of 66-96, but appear to be on the rise under rookie manager Gabe Kapler, coupled with the signing of ace Jake Arrieta and first baseman Carlos Santana and Kingery’s promotion to the big leagues.
Given the trade of franchise superstar Andrew McCutchen to the San Francisco Giants, the jury is still out on Clint Hurdle’s Pittsburgh Pirates, a team that finished fourth in the NL Central in 2017 at 75-87.
Even top-tier professional baseball teams lose 60-plus games over the course of the regular season, so it remains to be seen how the competition will unfold now that MLB spring training 2018 is coming to a close.