Zach Duke looked ready for the season. He went 6-2/3 innings, and his numbers were one walk, two strikeouts, two singles, and no runs, a very sweet start.
He left with a 2-0 lead; it wouldn't hold up. The Pirates lost to the 'Stros on a ninth-inning walk-off homer 6-4 with their rinky-dinks in the field.
Josh Harrison, Robby Grossman, Shelby Ford, and Benji Gonzalez were playing during the Pirate meltdown. Hey we understand you gotta look at these guys, and that there are still some split-squad games that require live bodies. But with nine days to go, don't you think you could start giving the major league players those closing innings?
-- Daniel McCutchen will pitch today against Toronto, followed by Brendan Donnelly, Evan Meek, Steven Jackson and Jeff Karstens.
-- Guys working on spots: Jeff Clement went 2-for-3 and scored twice; John Raynor wore the collar and is 2-for-20 in his past few outings, letting Brandon Moss back in the race.
The Bucs, according to Jen Langosch of MLB.com, are still pondering a six-man bench instead of a twelve man pitching staff when they break camp.