The Pirates took on the Braves, who some consider to be the best team in all of baseball, in their Grapefruit League home opener at McKechnie Field.  The starting lineup for the Bucs looked like one we could expect to see in a regular season game, with most of the major league guys getting a start.  Surprisingly, it was mostly the “AAAA” players who led the offense to a 9-2 win.

James McDonald, who started, and Jonathan Sanchez each pitched two scoreless innings against a tough Atlanta starting nine.  Jason Grilli pitched a scoreless fifth, but the game was still scoreless until the bottom of the inning.  Clint Barmes notched the first home run of the spring with a two-run shot to spark the offense.  Five runs came across to score in the sixth, and two more in the eighth.  Darren Ford and Brad Hawpe each drove in two, while Ivan De Jesus, Felix Pie, and Clint Robinson drove in one a piece.

Mark Melancon made his first appearance as a Bucco and served up a home run to Jason Heyward.  The only other run the Braves pushed across came on an infield hit against Justin Wilson in the ninth.  Tony Watson and Jared Hughes also made appearances and pitched a scoreless inning each.  Solid game for both the offense and pitchers.

Not that it matters, but Cutch, Walker, Pedro, and Starling combined to go 0-8.

The Bucs have a full slate of games this coming week, which will take us into March.  Opening Day is rapidly approaching.

Go Bucs

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