DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The pitchers were definitely ahead of the hitters when the Pirates defeated the Blue Jays, 2-1, on Monday at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium.The Blue Jays didn't get their first hit until first baseman Justin Smoak led off the bottom of the fifth with a single up the
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The pitchers were definitely ahead of the hitters when the Pirates defeated the Blue Jays, 2-1, on Monday at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium.
The Blue Jays didn't get their first hit until first baseman Justin Smoak led off the bottom of the fifth with a single up the middle against Nick Kingham, the third Bucs pitcher.
Meanwhile, the Pirates didn't hit a ball out of the infield in the first two innings against Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman, then broke the scoreless tie with the help of some heads up baserunning in the fourth.
After Starling Marte led off with a double against left-hander Aaron Loup, Gregory Polanco walked. With one out, Marte and Polanco pulled a double steal, setting up a sacrifice fly by John Jaso.
Stroman was pleased with the way he threw.
"I had a good mix of everything," he said. "[Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia] did a great job of kind of mixing all my pitches. Slider, curveball, cutter, change, heater, sinker. I have a good amount of weapons to attack hitters and I'm extremely confident this year and ready to go."
The Pirates tacked on a run in the sixth when Eric Wood led off with a double against Danny Barnes. He advanced on an infield out and scored when Barnes was called for a balk.
Right-hander Chad Kuhl, on the "inside track" for one of two remaining spots in the Pirates rotation, tossed two perfect innings in his Grapefruit League debut. Kuhl showed the form Pittsburgh expects in the first inning, inducing a weak tap back to the mound from Kevin Pillar then striking out Jose Bautista (looking) and Jarrod Saltalamacchia (swinging).
"Today was nice, just to see another jersey and see somebody that isn't on your team so you can get some real feedback on what you've been working on, things like that," Kuhl said. "It's also getting your feet wet and getting ready for the season."
The Blue Jays made more contact in the second, but the Bucs' new-look outfield cleaned it up. Left fielder Polanco sprinted into foul territory for the inning's second out, and center fielder Marte hustled back to track down the third out.
The Blue Jays ended the shutout in the sixth when Pillar doubled with two outs then Bautista followed with a single up the middle to plate pinch-runner John Smith
Pirates: Right-hander Ivan Nova will make his first start of the spring as the Blue Jays visit LECOM Park on Tuesday. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. ET. Nova is already set to start the Bucs' home opener against the Braves on April 7. Most of the projected Opening Day bullpen will follow Nova, including closer Tony Watson, setup men Daniel Hudson and Felipe Rivero, and middle relievers Juan Nicasio and Antonio Bastardo.
Blue Jays: With manager John Gibbons pushing most of his rotation back as a result of playing deep into the postseason each of the last two years, non-roster right-hander Lucas Harrell will get the start when the Blue Jays travel to Bradenton to play the Pirates on Tuesday. First pitch is 1:05 p.m. ET. "That was the plan coming in," Gibbons said of holding J.A. Happ, Marco Estrada, Aaron Sanchez and Francisco Liriano out until later in Grapefruit League play. Designated hitter Kendrys Morales is the only regular position player scheduled to be at McKechnie Field.
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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast.
Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com.