LAKELAND, Fla. -- The Pirates broke a string of four games with fewer than four runs scored with their 11-1 trouncing of the Tigers on Thursday in Lakeland, with Major Leaguers from last season's squad bunching homers in the team's seventh Grapefruit League game.Francisco Cervelli opened the scoring with a
LAKELAND, Fla. -- The Pirates broke a string of four games with fewer than four runs scored with their 11-1 trouncing of the Tigers on Thursday in Lakeland, with Major Leaguers from last season's squad bunching homers in the team's seventh Grapefruit League game.
Francisco Cervelli opened the scoring with a leadoff homer on the first pitch of the second inning by Detroit ace Justin Verlander, belting it into the seats well beyond the left-field wall at Publix Field. Jordy Mercer widened the Bucs' early lead with a grand slam off Chad Bell in the third on a 1-2 count, barely clearing the same left-field fence. Five batters later -- also on a 1-2 offering from Bell -- Adam Frazier put the game out of reach with a towering drive into the Tigers' bullpen that also scored Barrett Barnes, capping a seven-run frame.
"They just made the park look tiny today," Pittsburgh starter Steven Brault said. "It's ridiculous. ... Our team can hit -- it's just that simple."
In terms of power, though, the Pirates' holdovers had not contributed any homers until John Jaso homered in Wednesday's 3-1 victory at the Twins. Andrew McCutchen's two doubles and Starling Marte's one double represent the returning group's only other extra-base hits.
Through Wednesday's games, Pittsburgh ranked seventh in the Grapefruit League and 11th in the Majors with a .448 slugging percentage.
Still, in the small sample size, only McCutchen (.273), Josh Harrison (.167) and David Freese (.143) have batting averages below .333 among last year's regulars.
Hurdle yet to review rule changes
Manager Clint Hurdle said he had not had a chance to review the rule changes released Thursday morning by the MLB and MLBPA in a joint statement.
Several of the rule changes regard manager challenges, such as a 30-second time limit in which managers can decide to challenge a play, limiting review of challenges to two minutes and pushing back the ability of umpires to initiate a review for a manager who has already lost his challenge, from the seventh inning to the eighth.
Most significant is the confirmation of automatic intentional walks: The manager will inform the umpire of the desire to walk the batter, who will immediately be granted first base.
Zak Kerr is a contributor to MLB.com.