The Bucs looked to avoid getting swept coming into the final exhibition game. However, their eyes weren’t quite clear enough, because they let Cleveland jump on them again. The unfortunate part is that their bullpen looked solid through most of the game. It was their situational hitting that cost them.
With Derek Holland taking the mound, the first inning for Pittsburgh is what led to their downfall.
The Indians took an early 2-0 lead in the top of 1st after Jose Ramirez started a one out rally. Francisco Lindor then singled to right, moving Ramirez to third. Carlos Santana grounded into a fielder’s choice, Ramirez scored on a throwing error and Lindor reached third on another error. Franmil Reyes dropped an infield single to score Lindor.
However, the Pirates answered quickly with a two-run blast by Josh Bell. The homerun scored Bryan Reynolds, who’d singled earlier in the inning. The game would go scoreless in the 2nd inning, before picking back up in the top of the 3rd. Santana homered making the Cleveland lead 3-2.
In the 4th inning, Chris Stratton entered the game. Holland pitched three innings, giving up two runs, five hits and striking out two. The starter had a rocky three innings, where he also walked one batter.
Cleveland remained scoreless in the top of the 4th. Though the Bucs did threaten as Colin Moran reached on double. However the Pirates’ batters left him stranded.
Situational hitting has been a problem for the Bucs this series, as they’ve had opportunities to apply pressure. On Monday, the Bucs had the bases loaded twice and only scored once off a walk.
Stratton only pitch one inning, in that time he pitched a scoreless inning and struck out one. Coming in to take his place was Kyle Crick in the 5th inning.
Ramirez led off the 5th with a homerun to right field off of Crick, making the Indian’s lead 4-2. Though Crick bounced back by striking out the deadly bat of Lindor. With one out, Santana cracked a singled to right. After a nine pitch at-bat, Crick was finally able to strike out Jordan Luplow ending the inning.
The Pirates had some decent at-bats in the bottom of the 5th, however none of them paid off. The Bucs couldn’t get a runner on; instead they had three fly-outs in a row. Pittsburgh was still behind by two runs.
Clay Holmes left the bullpen to relieve Crick in the 6th inning. Crick, like Stratton, pitched one inning. However, he let up two hits and one run, but he struck out three batters.
Holmes was able to shut down the Indians bat in the 6th inning, no runs scored, no runners on. After having two games in a row of an undependable bullpen, Holmes’ performance is a breath of fresh air.
With two outs in the bottom of the 6th, Bell doubled to deep right. However, Moran’s groundout to short ended the rally.
The Pirates used a lot of their bullpen, and in the 7th inning, Robbie Erlin entered. Holmes threw one inning and struck out one.
Cesar Hernandez opened 7th the inning for the Indians with a double to deep center. But like the Pirates the in the inning before, Cleveland was unable to get the bats going.
Jose Osuna got his first hit of the game in the bottom of the 7th with an infield single. After the Osuna single, Cole Tucker struck out for the third time. Pinch running for Osuna was Jason Martin, who stole second with two outs. Jarrod Dyson doubled to right, scoring Martin. The Bucs trailed 4-3 as Kevin Newman struck out ending the inning.
The Pirates had a great 7th inning. They were patient at the plate and getting Cleveland pitcher, Brad Hand, to work. The Pirates put the bat on the ball and finally scored a run, their first since the 1st inning.
When Geoff Hartlieb came in to pitch in the 8th inning, the Pirates trailed by one-run. Elrin pitched one inning and gave up a single hit.
The Indians had another quick inning as they went down one-two-three. Though the Bucs didn’t fare much better. However, the Pirates bullpen has been doing a good job of shutting them down in the later innings.
The game seemed safe for Miguel Del Pozo going into the 9th inning as the Bucs tailed Cleveland by one-run. As for Hartlieb, he had one inning pitched and had zeros throughout his stat line.
With the late success of the bullpen, the hope ran dry as Del Pozo gave up a two out homerun to Christian Arroyo in the top of the 9th. Del Pozo was pitching well too, striking out two batters. The Indians went up by two-runs yet again, and led the Bucs 5-3.
Down by two, Jason Martin worked a walk for the Bucs with one out in the bottom of the 9th. John Ryan Murphy also walked with one out. After two strong at-bats by Martin and Murphy, the Bucs commit two easy outs.
The Bucs had a great bullpen performance late in the game, however it couldn’t last. Pittsburgh was outplayed in every facet of the game and didn’t match Cleveland’s talent. The Pirates open the regular season on Friday in St. Louis, as Joe Musgrove takes hill.
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