A bizarre contest took place between the Pirates and Baltimore Orioles this afternoon at McKechnie Field. Jeff Karstens was slated to make his first Grapefruit League start, but was scratched from the lineup due to “lingering shoulder discomfort.” This setback will force Karstens to start the season on the DL, opening up yet another spot in the rotation.
Chris Leroux started in Karstens’ place; he was scheduled to pitch two innings, but couldn’t even get out of the first. Two errors certainly didn’t help his cause, but five hits and two walks contributed to eight runs. Chris Dickerson‘s grand slam ended Leroux’s day after just one-third of an inning.
Russell Martin‘s day also came to an abrupt end, as he was ejected by home plate umpire Chad Fairchild. Martin wasn’t pleased with Fairchild’s strike zone; the ump confronted the Bucs’ new catcher, prompting a yelling match. Clint Hurdle came out to discuss, but Fairchild gave Martin the boot – a rarity for a spring training game. This isn’t the first time Russell Martin has had issues with umpires.
Lucas May joined the action to replace Martin, and set the table for Andrew McCutchen in the bottom of the first. Cutch drilled a titanic blast over the left field bleachers to cut the lead to 8-2. May went 3 for 5 on the day with a pair of RBI, and McCutchen tacked on a double in addition to his homer. Gaby Sanchez was also impressive for Pittsburgh, going 3 for 4 with a double and two RBI.
The Bucs kept chipping away at Baltimore’s lead, and struck for five runs in the bottom of the sixth. Pedro Alvarez tied the game at 10 with a two-run double – a remarkable feat after the Orioles had eight runs before the Pirates had a chance to bat.
There isn’t much time left for players to prove themselves; it sounds like the 25-man roster will be set before the club heads north. They’ll play the Rays tomorrow night in Port Charlotte, 7:05 pm start.