There's one thing that you want to leave Florida with in the springtime, and that's your health. Let's hope that Andrew McCutchen and James McDonald's early exits are for minor aches and nothing serious.
The third innings was the charm. McCutch was pulled before heading to the field for the bottom of the third with discomfort in his left wrist. He'll be evaluated later today in Bradenton. McCutchen was having a good day, too, going 2-for-2 with an RBI and run scored.
J-Mac was yanked after giving up a double and a single to start the third. Trainer Brad Henderson went out to the mound, and after a short discussion, McDonald held his side gingerly and left the game. He had discomfort in his left side, and was sent to Pirate City to be further examined.
The Bucs are expected to announce the results of today's poking and probing tomorrow. The pair join Ryan Doumit, who strained his right oblique yesterday.
Oh, the game? The Bucco bats stayed hot today. Pittsburgh opened the scoring when McCutch scored after a two-out Pedro double; it could have been a big inning had Jose Tabata not gotten picked off first base.
They added three more in the second. Josh Fields and Ronny Cedeno singled, J-Mac walked, and Tabata, Garrett Jones and McCutch brought them home one at a time; this inning ended with Jones being thrown out trying to steal home.
The Rays put a couple on the board in the second thanks to a lead-off walk and error, and another in the third after a lead-off double. It was another not-very-strong outing for the now-achy McDonald.
The Pirates tallied three more times in the sixth, all with two away, to go up 7-2. Josh Rodriguez walked, Dusty Brown doubled him home, and John Bowker kissed one good-bye. Meanwhile, Brian Burres dodged the raindrops and threw three goose eggs as he gave up a pair of knocks and walked four Rays.
Not that it bothered Tampa much; they roared back to get four off Danny Moskos and Justin Thomas; the sixth inning only ended because Corey Wimberly, McCutch's replacement in center, threw out the tying run at home.
The Bucs had second and third with one out for Ciriaco in the seventh; he couldn't bring them in. It cost them when Chris Leroux gave up the tying run in the eighth. But a couple of baby Buccos came through in the ninth.
Andrew Lambo came in on a Steve Pearce single, and Fernando Nieve nailed down the save, pitching one-hit ball in the final frame as Pittsburgh took home a sloppy 8-7 win.
The Pirates are still having problems getting acclimated to the go-go game of Clint Hurdle. They lost one runner on a steal attempt, and three were picked off, two at third. Still lots of work to do in that area before the coaches and players find that fine line between aggressiveness and silliness.
But they turned three more DPs, threw out another runner looking for an extra base, banged out 15 hits and were 6-for-14 RISP. It's a process; some things are developing more quickly than others.
Ross Ohlendorf will pitch the first four innings on Saturday in a split-squad game against the Phillies. Jeff Locke will start the other game against the Blue Jays.
-- The Bucs snapped a five-game Tampa Bay win streak with today's victory.