Kevin Hart was supposed to go three innings today; he lasted 1-1/3. Hart faced twelve batters, and that jury of Tiger hitters drew six walks, with another Motown batter getting beaned.
While that may or may not bode poorly for his chances to make the team - the Pirates, oddly, still love his "stuff" and fault mechanic changes he's working through - it didn't cost them the game.
He did only yield a run, thanks to a pick-off and two Ks. No, he didn't lose the game with his performance, but the bullpen guys who had been so solid in the early going did, leading to the Pirates 6-3 defeat.
Vinnie Chulk gave up a run, though he picked up a couple of whiffs. But DJ Carrasco and Brendan Donnelly each surrendered a deuce, and that was more than enough. Jeff Karstens and Evan Meek had strong outings, and Steve Jackson added another zero, though he really had to work for it.
In fact, it could have gotten really ugly. The Tigers left 16 runners on base.
Andrew McCutchen had a couple of hits and a stolen base, while Ryan Church and Pedro Alvarez each doubled. But it's the same old Bucs so far this spring; heck, they even lost three guys on the bases in the first three innings on a caught stealing, pick-off, and throw-out.
As far as the outing hurting Hart, here's what JR told Dejan Kovacevic of the Post Gazette: "He's working on it. He's made a lot of progress. He just hasn't been able to take it out into the game yet. You see signs of it, and then he reverts back a little bit. We'll see where we go. He realizes what position he's in. At some point, he's got to equate that to a game."
"Fortunately, the way we're lined up, we have pretty much all of spring training to make the evaluation. We'll just keep giving him the opportunity, and see if he can work it out."
Jen Langosch of MLB.com is even more direct: "Hart's struggles coupled with Daniel McCutchen's solid performances are probably a worst-case-scenario for the club. Why? Because it's going to be really hard to justify putting a pitcher who has so far shown no consistency with his mechanics on the Opening Day roster." But...
"Don't assume that Hart can't still make this team. In fact, the possibility of the Pirates using a four-man rotation for most of the first few weeks of the season is looking more and more likely. The club could get by with using a fifth starter once and skipping him twice during the first two and a half weeks because of three early off days. That could give Hart time to work with pitching coach Joe Kerrigan..."
And you wonder why the Pirates are a punchline instead of a contender. You don't have to win spot here; you're handed one. So much for "accountability."
Listen, GW understands upside and all that jazz. You'll hear nary a whimper if Brandon Moss, now 0-for-20, sticks over a Rule 5 pick for the fifth outfield spot. But coddling Hart is a mystery. He has an option; wouldn't it be better to let him straighten out his mechanics in Indy, where it wouldn't cost the team any games?
-- But hey, don't let a few walks ruin your day. Ron Washington admitted sticking a spoon under his nose last year, and that led Craig Calcaterra of Hardball Talk to a rehash of the snake's-belly, lowest time in Bucco history, the Cocaine Trials.