Sanchez was especially sharp. After a leadoff knock, he mowed down nine straight Astros, and threw a first strike to nine of the ten batters he faced. In fact, he never had a three-ball count today.
But it was only a 1-0 game after those six frames, as Brad Peacock and Kevin Chapman scattered four hits during that span. The only run came in the second when Pedro led off with a two-base knock and Garrett Jones, making his first start since tweaking his oblique, singled him home.
The Pirates built a cushion in the seventh off Chia-Jen Lo. Jones singled to open the inning and was pinch-ran for by Josh Harrison. Harrison stole second and came home on Travis Snider's double. Snider trotted home after an Ivan DeJesus single and Jordy Mercer sac fly to make it 3-0.
Chris Leroux and Bryan Morris put up goose eggs in the seventh and eighth, but Morris ran into control problems trying to bring the game home in the ninth. A pair of walks and a wild pitch put runners at second and third with an out. Mo whiffed Gerald Laird, and Clint Hurdle called on Brooks Brown to get the last out. He did, but not before yielding a two-run knock to Jose Martinez to make the final 3-2.
It's games like this that make the spring interesting. Sanchez and Gomez had been BP pitchers until today, but kept their hopes alive against Houston, a team that's been scoring at a five run+ pace this spring. And both are on thin ice - Sanchez's opt-out date of March 24th is fast approaching, and Gomez is out of options.
Tomorrow, though, the starter is not on thin ice. Gerrit Cole gets the nod against the Twins at Fort Myers at 1:05, and you can bet he'll be in Pittsburgh for awhile, even if he does start this year at Indy.
- You can tell the FO is still in evaluation mode. AJ Burnett will skip his slated spring start and instead work a minor league game at Pirate City tomorrow with a pitch count of 80-85.
- Wandy Rodriguez will start for the Dominican squad Saturday against the winner of the US - Puerto Rico game.
- Jason Stark of ESPN posted "Pirates Believe This Year Will Be Different."