The Pittsburgh Pirates traveled to Port Charlotte for a matchup against the Tampa Bay Rays. This afternoon’s game would be a preview of the opening day series starting March 26th. Tampa came into today with a record of 7-4 while Pittsburgh sported a dismal 2-10 spring record. The Rays got on the board very early in this one as Austin Meadows deposited the first pitch thrown by Pirates starter, Derek Holland, over the fence and into the home bullpen. It was a great sight for the Rays as he seems to be getting closer to mid-season form. Holland would settle in nicely though as he would only allow 2 more baserunners on walks the next 3 innings. The crowd favorite, Willy Adames, got the offense going again in the 6th inning with a leadoff walk. After a groundout to move the runner over by Chris Herrmann, Nate Lowe smoked an RBI single to right field scoring Willy and giving the lead back to Tampa.
Ryan Yarbrough started today’s contest for the Rays and he kept up his elite pitching. He would give up 3 hits, all leadoff singles, but also 0 runs and a pair of strikeouts in his 3 innings of work. We saw a vintage Yarbrough today as he tossed 29 strikes out of his 40 pitches and only allowed one free base on a HBP. Andrew Kittredge entered in the 4th inning and he threw another scoreless frame with the help of one strikeout and a highlight reel grab by Manuel Margot in center field. Margot went full extension to rob the Pirates’ first baseman, Will Craig. Manuel did his best Kiermaier impersonation showing Rays’ fans just how impressive the Tampa outfield can be this season. Kittredge would return in the top of the 5th inning and immediately give up a leadoff triple to the young Jason Martin. The Pirates would tie the game on an RBI groundout from Erik Gonzalez. Kittredge’s day would end with 4 hits, 2 strikeouts, and 1 earned run in 2 innings of work. Nick Anderson and Jalen Beeks tossed back-to-back perfect innings without allowing any baserunners and punched out 3 Pirates total. Beeks also pitched the 8th and left the game at the end of the inning after retiring his 6th straight hitter. The pitching staff had another great performance as they gave up just the one Pittsburgh run. Despite the Rays getting out-hit 7-2, they would find a way to be victorious over the Pirates today by a score of 2-1.