Sunday, March 14, 2010

Morton Salts One Away

Hey, you may recall that when the Bucs faced guys like Mike Hampton last season, they rolled over and played dead; conversely, they managed to hang tough against the top guns. Same tale this spring, at least against the Yankees.

They can't touch Alfredo Aceves, but treat CC Sabathia like a stray mutt. The Pirates rolled to a 10-5 win this afternoon against CC and the Bronx Bombers, marred only by a Keystone Kop ninth inning.

Charlie Morton finally looked like the linchpin of the Nate McLouth trade today, pitching four scoreless innings and giving a hit and walk with four strikeouts. Unlike prior starts, his fastball command was right on, he worked both sides of the plate, and he threw his soft stuff for strikes.

Vinnie Chulk, Jeff Karstens, and Ron Uviedo were all strong, and Brendan Donnelly escaped unscathed after getting himself into a seventh inning, bases juiced jam. Jean Machi, though, help orchestrate a ninth inning mini-meltdown.

He threw away a DP ball, then Jose Tabata was befuddled by a wind-driven fly. A passed ball got lost by catcher Hector Gimenez, allowing two runners to score. After a walk, Machi got the hook and Uviedo finished up with a 1-2-3 effort.

But with a stiff wind blowing out and a high sun, it was a day for the hitters; at least Pittsburgh's. They banged out five homers among their fourteen hits. Bobby Crosby dinged a pair, and Aki Iwamura, Delwyn Young, and Steve Pearce added to the booty.

Crosby went 3-for-3, adding a double to his two homers and driving in three runs. Young and Lastings Milledge each had a pair of hits. And Crosby wasn't even in the starting lineup; he came on when Ronny Cedeno stole second and got his hand stomped on for his efforts (note to Ronny; slide feet first next time). He's OK, just cut up a bit, and will take off tomorrow and be back in action.

The Pirates' Bomb Squad game with the Orioles ended in a 1-1 tie. It was quite the opposite of the main game; Brian Friday had the Pirates' only hit, a single. Friday isn't ready to challenge for a spot yet, but he's been solid in his first camp.

Brad Lincoln gave up a run on two hits during his three inning stint. He struck out four and walked one. Brian Burres, Bryan Morris (3K), and Donnie Veal each worked two scoreless innings behind Lincoln, with Jeff Sues (2K) hurling a perfect tenth frame.

The Pirates host the Phil's at McKechnie tomorrow afternoon. Zach Duke will start against Roy Halladay. The Zachster will be followed by Evan Meek, Jeremy Powell, Javier Lopez, and Jack Taschner.

-- The Pirates sent the Turk out today. OF Brandon Jones and SS Argenis Diaz were shipped to Indy. RHPs Ronald Uviedo and Ramon Aguero, along with CF Gorkys Hernandez, were optioned to Altoona. Brian Friday was assigned to minor league camp, and is expected to be Indy's starting shortstop in 2010.

So with that half dozen gone and another six in various states of rehab, the camp roster is down to 54 players.

-- If you're wondering why it took so long for the light to come on for Pirate prospect Bryan Morris, he told Rob King of FSN Sports that the Pirates made some mechanical changes in his delivery last year, and he fought them. After a session in the fall Instructional League, he's got his head screwed on straight again, and it's been showing in his work.

-- Dejan Kovacevic of the Post Gazette has a piece on five-tool prospect Starling Marte, who's got the Pirate scouts' drawers in a bunch with his physical skills.

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