Spring Training games are always confusing to watch or listen to; as Greg Brown pointed out in the radio booth today, the play-by-play announcer really has to be on top of all the positional changes that happen. It was nice to see some of the Pirates’ younger players succeed in this game, but it was the more established players who made the noise. Francisco Cervelli put the Buccos ahead early with a homer off Matt Boyd and a few innings later, Jordy Mercer hit what seemed to be an absolute bomb, based on how they were discussing it on the radio. Predictably, Rob Scahill gave up a two-run homer to tie it, but the Pirates regained the lead in the next half inning on an Alen Hanson single over the head of former Pirate JaCoby Jones.
As for the pitching on the Pirates’ side, former Tiger Kyle Lobstein pitched two scoreless, followed by two scoreless from Wilfredo Boscan. Boscan interests me a lot as depth for the Major League club; he pitched decently well in the Red Sox system in 2014 between AA and AAA, then posted a 3.07 ERA over 126 innings last year in Indianapolis. His 3.34 FIP suggests he outperformed a bit and his LOB% is pretty high at 72.6%, but he had a good outing today and could provide some depth as a spot starter or long reliever once the season begins to wear on. Lobstein worked his way around some base runners and seemed to have some issues with control, walking two batters over two innings, but overall had a nice debut for the Pirates.
The most interesting thing to happen in this game was the debut of new Pirates play-by-play announcer Joe Block. In a weird situation, he came on in relief for Greg Brown, who simply left the game around the fifth inning (much to the surprise of his fellow announcers, they said he “went back to Bradenton,” whatever that means). Block filled in well and has a great baseball voice; I’m looking forward to listening to his calls throughout the season.
Up today is a game against the Tigers, who inexplicably decided to have half their team play the Pirates and half their team play the Yankees. I don’t know how they expect to compete that way, but we’ll find out soon!