PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) – Gift Ngoepe’s two-out single to right scored Adam Frazier in the bottom of the 9th as the Pirates beat the Rays 5-4 Tuesday. Frazier slid around the tag of catcher Michael McKenry, the former Pirate.
Frazier was 1 for 3 with a pair of runs scored. John Jaso homered in his first game at third base this Spring. Jacob Stallings homered and Jose Osuna with a pair of hits.READ MORE: Man In Critical Condition After Shooting In Pitcairn
After getting practice reps at third, the Pirates wanted Jaso to see game action and despite playing the whole game, never got one ball at third.
“I was excited,” Jaso said. “I’m not going to lie, I was nervous out there the first couple of innings. Had the jitters, but knew after the first couple of innings, it would be fine. I was just waiting for the ball to come to me, man. Never did.”
“I can’t remember the last game when a third baseman had no plays in nine innings, other than it probably was a game I played,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “And everybody wanted me to have no plays and everybody was happy at the end of the day including me. We’ll find a way to get him back out there. I like the action at the batters’ box, it’s been really strong for John.”
Chad Kuhl started and went five innings, four hits, three runs with a pair of homers and four strikeouts. Kuhl said he just elevated early and then the 4th and 5th innings were better.
The righty said he hasn’t heard about potentially being named the 4th starter, nor is he concerned at this point.
Marte/Polanco Return to Pirates Lineup Thursday
Tuesday, Gregory Polanco and Starling Marte returned to Pirates camp, following an off-day for the team, both will return to the lineup on Thursday against Boston. Jordy Mercer will lead off, followed by Marte and Polanco, followed by David
Freese, Francisco Cervelli, Jose Osuna, Josh Bell and Alen Hanson, with 5th starter candidate Drew Hutchison pitching.
Marte said his ankle was fine, went through a program while at the World Baseball Classic and when asked if he can play in a game he said, “Yes, I could play 9 innings.”
Hurdle said they reassessed Marte on Tuesday and “he seems to be in a good place.” Marte originally hurt his ankle at LECOM Park during an exhibition game against the Pirates earlier this month.
Marte said through interpreter Mike Gonzalez that enjoyed his time at the WBC, especially with Polanco.READ MORE: Three Victims Recovering, Suspect In Custody After Shooting In Mall Parking Lot
“Being able to watch him develop, confront and go against those types of pitchers,” Marte said. “There were moments in the dugout where I was able to pull him aside and speak some life into him and motivate him.”
Polanco Has “Incredible Experience”
Polanco said experience at the WBC will help him now and always in his career. The 25-year-old said he watched and learned how the players on the Dominican Republic work, especially Robinson Cano and Jose Bautista, to prepare for games and how hard they worked out in the off-days.
Something clicked for Polanco, he led the DR in the WBC with a .579 average and 1.461 OPS, that included a homer and he even had a stolen base.
“I feel very comfortable right now, my hands and my lower body are working pretty good,” Polanco said. “Just taking advantage of the guys on the team, if they see me in the cage or whatever, they would give me advise. They are good at it because they work.”
“All of those games are World Series games, it’s not the playoffs, it’s World Series games,” Polanco said of the intensity of the World Baseball Classic. “Every game is important. It’s something that you don’t want to leave. You just want to keep playing.”
It was team USA that ended the tournament for the Dominicans, a 6-3 final on Saturday as his professional teammate, Andrew McCutchen, drove in two runs with a late hit.
“I was just like, oh man Cutch just hit this double,” Polanco said. “But after that I was happy for him because he hit a couple of balls hard, but didn’t get anything.”
Polanco, though, will never forget the support he and his teammates received. He said he had never seen some many fans outside of a game, adding he was never really noticed before as a player out in public.
“You go to a restaurant, you are in the street and you see Dominican fans saying ‘oh Polanco let’s take a picture or something’. It was something that I had never experienced before.”
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