* Well, so much for the Virgil Vasquez buzz. The Yankees suited up Jorge Posada, Johnny Damon, Mark Teixeira, Hideki Matsui, Xavier Nady, Melky Cabrera and the boys, and the Bucs brought a busload of guys like Jose Tabata, Neil Walker, Steve Pearce, Luis Cruz, Andrew McCutchen, Jody Mercer, Jeremy Farrell, Eric Kratz ...we guess you get the idea.
It was the Pinstripes a lot, the good guys a little, or a 9-2 final for those of you with a scoring fetish.
CC and Mariana K'd nine Pirates in five innings, while Vasquez was lit up like a Times Square Christmas tree by the Bronx Bullies. Evan Meek even fell to earth, walking three guys. Mama said there'd be days like this. Mama's always right.
This afternoon's game is more of the same; there aren't many no-name pitchers left in Florida now. The Pirates return to McKechnie Field to face the Twins at 1:05 p.m. when Zach Duke and Francisco Liriano square off in a battle of the lefties.
* Hey, it must be getting near serious baseball time in Florida. The Bucs saw Andy Sonnanstine and David Price last night, and get to take some cuts against CC Sabathia and Mariano Rivera tonight. Now we'll see what the boys have.
They swung the bat pretty well against Tampa, but left a dozen guys on base in falling to the Rays, 6-4. Pittsburgh banged out six hits in 5-1/3 innings against Sonnanstine and Wright, but only scored twice.
They had 13 hits in all, including 5 doubles, but eight guys were left in scoring position during the contest. Robinzon Diaz and Craig Monroe each had a pair of knocks with a double, and Monroe brought a pair home, his 10th and 11th RBI of camp.
Paul Maholm was all that again, going 4-2/3 scoreless innings, lifted only because he hit his pitch count of 55 offerings. He gave up two hits, a walk, and whiffed four (including Evan Longeria and Pat Burrell) as his spring ERA dropped to 0.66. Ah, but the pen.
Five bullpen guys gave up ten! walks, and if Joe Kerrigan is a drinking man, he sure had an excuse last night. TB got four hits total, but the free passes were brutal.
Dave Davidson, Brian Slocum, and Jesse Chavez were particularly ugly. Donnie Veal and Jeremy Powell struggled through a zippo inning apiece, somewhat bloodied but unbowed.
The next round of cuts may not be very hard to make. And John Perrotto of Pirates Report says it appears that there are no free agent arms looming in the Bucco future.
* Ian Snell took the loss to Venezuela last night. He worked 4 innings, giving up five hits, two walks, and a run while collecting five strikeouts. Ramon Vazquez tripled in four at-bats, but K'ed the other three ups. 1-for-4 should be his middle name, at least in the WBC.
* Eric Hinske is on schedule to DH Wednesday, and Brandon Moss may get into some minor league games late in the week. Andy Phillips still has a balky back and is day-to-day. Jason Davis and Steve Pearce have healed from calf strains, so it looks like Phil Dumatrait is the only player down - and he's even long tossing. Minor league guys Shelby Ford and Jose Tabata have both mended up, too.
* To celebrate his 50th season with the team, Steve Blass will toss out the first pitch on opening day. Fittingly, his battery mate will be Manny Sanguillen.
* And hey, thanks to the guys that stopped by for the live blog. We'll run that feature every so often; it seemed to work out OK last night