PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) — Andrew McCutchen hit his fourth homer in five games, again hitting in the second spot of the lineup, as the Blue Jays beat the Pirates 3-2 in Dunedin. McCutchen is tied for second in all of Spring Training with four homers and the move in the lineup has paid immediate dividends for the Bucs.
“I like what I’m seeing out of it and I like the freedom that the guys underneath Andrew have to run,” Manager Clint Hurdle said. ”There is always going to be a little trepidation to run and make an out in front of Andrew.”
“I have a real solid opinion that he’s going to be put in a position to score more runs than he ever has before,” Hurdle added.
If they decide to make the decision to have McCutchen hit second, the manager says they will commit to it for a length of time.
First baseman John Jaso walked three times and has been on base in five of his last six plate appearances while batting lead-off.
“He seems to have an internal clock for it,” Hurdle said. “He’ll see pitches, he’ll also ambush early, he’ll swing early in the count as well. It’s not like he’s there to get six pitches every time.”
David Freese played the field for the first time as a Pirate, starting at third base with no errors and a diving stop on Russell Martin. Hurdle said he’s solid and will get another opportunity to play third on Monday.
Troy Tulowitzki hit a 2-run homer off A.J. Schugel in the first inning and Martin scored the game-winning run on a double by Ryan Goins in the fifth inning off reliever Cory Luebke. Pirates righty Arquimedes Caminero pitched two scoreless, giving up no hits and striking out one, lowering his spring ERA to 12.79.
“One of the themes we have in the clubhouse this year is hunger, there are more things to get done,” Hurdle said. “We’re not going to be on the mindset that we’re just getting work in. I’m not saying that happened to him [Caminero], but I think the focus and intent today is what we’ve normally seen from him when he’s aggressive. When he’s aggressive, when he finishes pitches and stays on line, his stuff plays big time.”
A pair of strange events in the ninth inning; the game ended as the umpire ruled Pirates outfielder Antoan Richardson made a late slide into second and runner at first was also ruled out. The Pirates said they will study the video and learn from it.
The save Sunday to 30-year-old Pat Venditte, the Blue Jays reliever faced four batters, three of whom he threw right-handed to and the other one, pitching left-handed.
Venditte is the only full-time, switch-pitcher in big league history having thrown 28.2 innings with Oakland last year with a 4.40 ERA.
“The practice that this young man has put in to do what he is able to do, it blows my mind,” Hurdle said. “I have nothing but professional respect for him. To get to this level, to have pitched in the big leagues and maybe another opportunity, it’s crazy good.”