Solid Start For Nova Despite Pirates Loss To Red Sox

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Boston Red Sox came back to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-3 with two runs in the eighth on Thursday, but for the Pirates it was more about a really solid start from Ivan Nova.

Five innings, five strikeouts, four hits, one run, no walks. Nova also threw 45 of his 65 pitches for strikes.

“I attacked the guys out there, it was a good day to work,” Nova said. “I was throwing everything, fastball, changeup, four-seamer, curveball, working on everything.”

“I thought it was a snapshot of what we saw the second half of last season,” said manager Clint Hurdle. “Sink down, used his fastball really well in-and-out early. Curveball and change-up came into play. Only two 3-ball counts in the time he was out there. Efficient would be the operative word.”

“That was one of the things that helped me last year,” Nova said, “have the same mindset and look to do it here in Spring Training and hopefully carry into the season.”

Non-Roster Magic

Last year, it was non-roster outfielder Tito Polo ripping David Price for a few hits and RBI, Thursday night it was Single A outfielder Jordan Luplow who doubled home a run in the fourth off Chris Sale.

“It was a little surreal at first, but you go back to it’s the same game that you’ve been playing since you’ve been little,” Luplow said and then later admitted it was more doing it off an elite pitcher. “This a little bit, yeah. When I got on first base, KB (First base coach Kimera Bartee) goes ‘don’t worry this guy (Sale) is just trying to earn a spot on the team’.”

Gift Ngoepe 3 Hits At 3rd

Known for his defense at short, manager Clint Hurdle started Gift Ngoepe at third base, a position he had just started playing this Spring.

“I believe you are going to see that high-level glove where ever you put him, third, short, second,” said manager Clint Hurdle. “The challenge for him has been offensively and he’s making some progress along those lines. Again today, he put down the bunt late, strung some at bats out, seeing more pitches, deeper counts. He’s been fun to watch this Spring.”

“It gives me a lot of confidence moving forward,” Ngoepe said. “I feel like I’m ready for the season because I’ve bought into this process and I’m getting more confident as Spring Training is going.”

Barnes Hurt

Minor-league outfielder Barrett Barnes was a late add to the lineup and while legging out an infield hit in the second inning hurt his right hamstring. The team said he is being evaluated for right hamstring discomfort. Barnes hit .306 with Double A Altoona last year.

Cervelli Returns

“It was amazing,” catcher Francisco Cervelli said about his experience in Mexico in the World Baseball Classic. Cervelli played for Italy and twice against his native Venezuela to which he said he had mixed feelings. Cervelli grew up in Venezuela, but his father is Italian.

“It’s special and the best thing was to see my dad in the stands because every time he saw an Italian shirt, he just cried,” Cervelli said.

Cervelli said his health is good, but he needs practice in Spring Training.

“I need more, over there is no time to work, just play. I come back here and I have time to do my things. I think I need to do a little more work, but I will be ready.”

Papa Stallings

Catcher Jacob Stallings also returned, not from a baseball tournament, rather following the birth of his first child, a son. And he barely got to see it, finding out just before the team stretched on Sunday that they thought this was the time. Clint Hurdle and Neal Huntington told him to just go. Stallings drove about two hours to the Orlando airport because that was the earliest flight.

“I got there just in time,” Stallings said. “I landed at 3 o’clock Nashville time, got to the hospital about 3:45. She started pushing at 4 and had the baby at 4:25.”

Stallings said his father, Pitt head coach Kevin Stallings, was there to see the birth of his first grandchild. He happened to be in town to watch Jacob’s sister dance last weekend.

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