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BRADENTON, Fla. — The Pirates didn’t make any mistakes on Tuesday against the Minnesota Twins, and for this game, that was good enough.
They didn’t exactly produce a stunning amount of offense, but their pitchers combined to allow just five baserunners all game, on three Stitched Minnesota Twins Jerseys hits and two walks, and for the first time in the last three games, they committed no errors all game.
A sixth-inning, solo home run from second baseman Adam Frazier was all they needed to take care of the Twins, 1-0.
The win moves the Pirates back above .500 this spring, as they now sit at 11-10-1 in Grapefruit League play.
Pirates hitting coach Rick Eckstein talks to players during batting practice Monday, March 22, 2021, at LECOM Park in Bradenton, Fla.
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On the mound
Left-hander Sam Howard and righties Kyle Crick and Michael Feliz all pitched shutout innings, but Tuesday’s game almost served as a showcase for Pirates pitchers who have been pleasant surprises this season.
Right-hander Chase De Jong began the game with three perfect innings before allowing a leadoff single in the fourth and exiting after recording two more outs.
David Bednar finished the fourth inning with a five-pitch strikeout then was relieved by Miguel Yajure, who twirled a snappy, six-pitch, 1-2-3 inning in the fifth. Feliz, Crick and Howard followed after that, but the most impressive may have been right-hander Yoansy Contreras. The 21-year-old who was acquired in the offseason trade of Jameson Taillon came in for the ninth inning, walked the first batter, then struck out the side, all swinging, earning the save in the process.
At the plate
The Pirates really weren’t able to muster all that much more offensive production than the Twins. The second inning was the only frame in which they had multiple hits, with shortstop Erik Gonzalez and Frazier each singling, but there was a double play between them, so there still wasn’t much of a threat.
Frazier made sure that didn’t matter in the sixth inning, though. He continued his outrageously hot spring by golfing a 1-0 slider over the wall in right field. His 2-for-3 effort on the day increased his spring training batting average to .586, though the homer was his first so far in Florida.
The Pirates take on the Orioles in a night game Friday, March 19, 2021, at LECOM Park in Bradenton, Fla.
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In the field
The Twins nearly took the lead before Frazier got the chance to go yard in the top of the sixth. With Feliz on the mound, Twins infielder Andrew Romine ripped a one-out triple to left-center. Really, he should have scored thanks to the next batter, outfielder Luis Arraez, who smacked a line drive toward left that seemed destined to be an RBI single.
Just at the last moment, however, Wilmer Difo, who had subbed in at shortstop by that point, leapt up and snagged the ball. Romine was certain it would get over Difo’s head, so he took off for home, but Difo easily flipped it to third to complete the inning-ending double play and what ended up being the game-saving out.