Pittsburgh capitalized late in the game on two fielding errors and some pitching miscues in order to break up what had been a 2-2 tie game and take the win today. Both sides only managed 6 hits, but 2 of Pittsburgh’s were home runs from Carlos Santana and Lolo Sanchez. Toronto also gifted the Pirates 4 unearned runs off of two errors to sink the game for the birds. Both of Toronto’s runs came in the 5th, when Rob Brantly tripled Kevin Kiermaier in to score from first and Whit Merrifield singled him home. Brantly is using the most of his limited time to impress, batting 4 for 12 with 3 extra base hits and 3 RBIs in spring so far. Merrifield had a nice steal of second in the top of the 3rd but was gunned down trying to take third in the same inning.
Kikuchi had his worst outing of the spring so far, said with tongue firmly in cheek, as he once again allowed no runs and no hits, but walked two. He racked up a pair of swinging strikeouts as well. Small sample sizes, weak teams and spring training mirage caveats all still apply, but over 7 innings of work, Kikuchi has allowed just 1 hit, 3 walks, and as struck out 9, certainly raising hopes that he can be the kind of pitcher his stuff suggests.
Touted prospect Ricky Tiedemann had less luck, giving up a single to the first hitter he faced, Andrew McCutchen before Carlos Santana drove them both home with a shot over the right centre field wall. The inning could have been uglier as Jack Suwinski singled next but was gunned down trying to stretch it into a double by Daulton Varsho. Tiedemann struck out Triolo but then walked Smith-Njigba before picking him off first. But he had a clean second inning, picking up a second strikeout.
The rest of the bullpen were not so lucky. Jackson threw a clean 6th, but for Adrian Hernandez in the 7th with two out and a man on first, Wynton Bernard completely clanked an easy flyball which should have been the third out. Gonzalez came all the way around from first to score. Hagen Danner came into the game and prompted melted, allowing a home run to Lolo Sanchez, a single to Jack Brannigan and then a walk to Henry Davis. He managed to get the next batters and Endy Rodriguez lofted a fairly easy fly ball to Zach Britton for the third out. Britton either partially lost it in the sun or timed poorly with a little hop, but the ball went off his glove to allow two runs to score. Gonzalez singled him home in the next at bat.
The Jays host Minnesota tomorrow in Dunedin at 1:07 for Alex Manoah’s second start of the spring.