FORT MEYERS, Fla. (93-7 THE FAN) — Native New Englander Jeff Locke made up for a disappointing outing in a 16-6 loss to the Boston Red Sox last Friday by lasting his scheduled 4 innings, allowing 1 run on 3 hits and 2 walks as the Pirates beat up on the Boston bullpen, 9-3, in Fort Myers.
Locke retired the first 8 batters before former teammate Pedro Ciriaco singled, stole second and scored on another single, which briefly tied the game, 1-1, in the third.
After working out of first-and-second one-out jams in the 4th inning, that was it for a mostly satisfied Locke who admitted to being nervous his last time there.
“It’s pretty cool to pitch against the team I grew up watching non-stop. It felt really good to go out there and compete,” said Locke who is competing for at least one available spot in the rotation to start the season.
The Fan’s Jim Colony interviews Jeff Locke:
“It was a good step forward for him,” added manager Clint Hurdle.
Not so good for veteran lefthander Jonathan Sanchez who allowed one run and left with the bases loaded in the 5th.
“He’s trying to find that happy medium between letting go and throwing strikes,” explained Hurdle, “and today he almost backed down (to the point) the velocity was … you hear that term aiming the ball.”
Sanchez’s spring ERA rose to 13.50 and would have been a lot worse had Phil Irwin not gotten out his jam.
“We like Phil; he’s got as very good demeanor,” Hurdle said. “He’s never too excited; he’s not a Dow Jones guy; he just mainlines. He’s got great confidence in his ability and never talks about it, just here’s what I can do and here it is.”
The Bucs did most of their damage off Boston’s Steven Wright who has never pitched in the major leagues and doesn’t appear ready to anytime soon. Wright gave up 2 runs in the 5th inning and 3 in the 6th to break the game open.
Michael McKenry went 2-for-2 to raise his spring average to .417. Starling Marte and Jose Tabata combined to score 4 runs out of the leadoff spot. Andrew McCutchen drove in 2 runs with a single and an infield out on which 3rd baseman Brock Holt made a nice play.
Holt was one of 4 former Pirates in the Boston line-up; he was 0-3, Davis Ross 0-2, Lyle Overbay 1-2 and Pedro Ciriaco 2-4. Overbay played left field, a position he has never played in the majors; he last appeared there in AA ball 12 years ago.
The Pirates return to Bradenton Thursday afternoon to play Tampa Bay. James McDonald is scheduled to start, with Mark Malancon and Justin Wilson also scheduled to pitch.