Veteran left-hander allows just one run over two innings in Spring Training debut
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Colby Rasmus had a pair of RBIs and Munenori Kawasaki collected two hits as the Blue Jays remained undefeated this spring with a 4-2 victory over the Pirates on Friday afternoon at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium.
Rasmus opened the scoring in the bottom of the first with a line-drive single to right off Pittsburgh starter Gerrit Cole. Toronto's center fielder later added another RBI in the fifth on a slow grounder back to the pitcher that scored Ryan Goins from third base.
Kawasaki provided a lift during his first start of the spring with a pair of singles. He also scored two runs as starting shortstop Jose Reyes got the day off. Dioner Navarro was another standout on offense for the Blue Jays with an RBI double in the first inning.
"I said this all last year, when he's on the field, good things usually happen," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said of Kawasaki. "When he's at-bat, he gives you a good at-bat, fundamentally, he's a sound defensive player. On the bases, he's got real good instincts. Just a good all-around player."
Cole made his first appearance this spring for the Pirates and was charged with two runs over two innings. He also allowed three hits while striking out two. The first inning created some issues for Cole, but he recorded a three-up, three-down inning in the second, which included a pair of strikeouts.
When asked what he was aiming to work on in his first start of the spring, Cole said he was, "getting a feel back for everything, just trying to keep the fastball down and get comfortable back on the mound again."
After Cole got in his work for the day, the Pirates brought in Jameson Taillon. Pittsburgh's No. 1 prospect was on top of his game, allowing just one hit over two scoreless innings.
Left-hander Mark Buehrle made the start for Toronto and allowed one run over two innings. The veteran starter said afterwards that he experienced some issues locating his sinker as he allowed just two hits and one walk with a strikeout. Brandon Morrow then entered the game and allowed two hits and one run over his two innings.
Third baseman Pedro Alvarez led the way on offense for Pittsburgh with a pair of doubles. Alvarez just missed a home run off Buehrle with a shot off the wall in straightaway center and then he followed three innings later with a double to right-center field off Morrow.
Up next: Right-hander Drew Hutchison will make his spring debut when the Blue Jays travel to Sarasota, Fla., on Saturday for a game against the Orioles. Hutchison pitched in an intrasquad game earlier this spring but this will mark the official start in his quest to win the final spot in Toronto's rotation. Hutchison will be followed on the mound by Ricky Romero, Marcus Stroman, Tomo Ohka, Deck McGuire and Neil Wagner. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. ET. The game can be seen live on MLB.TV or heard on Gameday Audio.