The Bucs squared off against the Rays in Port Charlotte to kick off their Grapefruit League schedule.  The Rays, playing with a split squad, started Roberto Hernandez (formerly known as Fausto Carmona) and Jeff Locke started for the Pirates.

Locke pitched three no-hit innings, giving up just one walk.  He ended being the winning pitcher because the rules for pitchers to qualify for a win are different in Spring Training.  Three Rays pitchers each threw one hitless inning, matching Locke.  Starling Marte notched the first hit of Spring Training when he led off the top of the fourth with single.  After stealing second and getting to third on a groundout, Marte scored when Garrett Jones grounded to first.  It quickly became 3-0 Pirates when Felix Pie tripled Chase d’Arnaud in and Darren Ford drove Pie in.

Chris Leroux, Bryan Morris, Mike Zagurski, and Duke Welker each threw scoreless innings after Locke, with the only Tampa Bay hits coming against Leroux.  Vin Mazzaro then came in and got two quick outs before walking the next batter.  After a single, Mazzaro balked and both runners advanced.  Center fielder Darren Ford lost a high flyball in the sun and allowed both runners to score on a book-rule double.  The third out was finally recorded to get to the ninth, where Brooks Brown pitched a 1-2-3 inning to earn the save.  Bucs win by a score of 3-2 and are currently undefeated.

If you’re going to take anything away from the first two games (including yesterday’s scrimmage) this spring, it should be how encouraging Starling Marte has been.  After tearing it up in the Dominican League this winter, he’s gone deep, laced a single, and stolen a base out of the leadoff spot already.  Looking ahead, the most exciting aspect about this spring could be the fringe players, and who will emerge as this year’s Matt Hague.

Go Bucs

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