But in the end, he became the first Bucco pitcher of the spring to work into the sixth frame. McDonald finished in a groove, nailing 14 of the last 17 Jays he faced. His line today was 5-1/3 innings worked, giving up three runs on five hits and two walks with five K.
The Pirates didn't give him a lot of support against Mark Buehrle. In the third, they conjured up a little two-out lightning. Starling Marte collected his second hit, a triple, and Russell Martin walked. A Cutch single plated Marte, but the game-tying run was cut down at home a batter later. Russell tried to score on Gaby Sanchez's knock to left, but Melky Cabrera's toss home to Mike Nickeas barely beat the Bucco catcher.
The game went quietly into the sixth. With one out and one on, Mark Melancon took the ball from J-Mac. MM walked his first batter, and Nickeas dropped a fly single into right with two down to plate Adam Lind. The Jays got an ugly unearned tally in the seventh. Melancon started the inning surrendering an infield knock and walk; an out later, Vin Mazzaro came on. He got back-to-back grounders, one that the Buc infield couldn't turn for two and the other a boot by Ivan DeJesus at third, allowing another two-out run.
Toronto gave the Bucs a golden chance in the eighth, but they failed to take full advantage. Alex Presley opened with an infield single off Neil Wagner, and Jared Goedert got aboard on a drop by the centerfielder. DeJesus K'ed, but Josh Harrison looped a single into center.
A run scored and the Bucs ended up on second and third after the throw. But JT, with the table set, whiffed on a foul tip. Jordy Mercer followed with a walk to juice the sacks, leaving Tony Sanchez with the chance to be a hero. Alas, his bouncer to second ended the inning with the Bucs a knock short of tying the game.
The Bucs did D up in the ninth to keep it close. With an out, Jared Hughes gave up a walk to ex-Bucco Jim Negrych, followed by a double to put runners at second and third. Like the Bucs the inning before, the Jays didn't cash in; with the infield in, Mercer grabbed a grounder and gunned the ball home to nab Negrych, and another bouncer ended the frame.
The Bucs cut it to one when Felix Pie led off the home half of the ninth with a homer to right off Tyson Brummet, and Lucas May followed with a walk. Dan Grovatt came in to run and went to second on a Presley bouncer to first. Goedert K'ed, followed by a DeJesus infield knock to put runners on the corners. Harrison came up big with a two-out ground rule double to send the game to extra innings; if it stayed in play, the game may have been over.
Fortunately, that bounce into the stands didn't come back to bite them. Kyle Waldrop came on in the tenth, and gave up a leadoff double to Andy LaRoche. But he left him at second handily.
Tommy Hottovy came on and hit Mercer to open the Bucco half. A failed bunt by Tony Sanchez forced him at second, but Hottovy followed by plunking Pie, too. Kelson Brown ran for Sanchez, and pinch hitter Carlos Paulino dropped a fly into center for the walk-off knock.
Back at it tomorrow after another nice come-from-behind win when Kyle McPherson faces the Phillies in Clearwater. Pittsburgh, after a slow start, has won four in a row and is now 8-10 in Grapefruit League play.
- Jeff Karstens should be close to returning. He took the bump for a couple of frames at minor league camp against the Phillies AAA club Lehigh Valley and tossed goose eggs, giving up a hit and whiffing one while throwing 26 pitches.
- The game drew a crowd of 8,439 at McKechnie Field today, the largest attendance in the franchise's 90 year history.
- Apparently, quite a few Toronto fans were in the stands. Russell Martin heard it but good when he was in the game; guess those Canadian visitors weren't thrilled about him bailing on the WBC national team.