Friday, March 09, 2007

Duke Dazzles, Bucs Split

Zach Duke had his first solid outing of the spring, allowing just three hits, one run, striking out five and walking none in four innings Friday afternoon, but the Pirates dropped the first of two games on the day, 8-5, to the Braves. The Bucs rebounded and won their split squad night cap, 6-2, over the Indians.

In the early game Duke was nearly flawless, making one big mistake to Willy Aybar that was driven out of the park. Other than that, Duke pounded the strike zone and was reminiscent of the Zach Duke we saw in his first major league season.

"The good thing for me is that I felt pretty much the same as last time out," Duke said. "I set the bar pretty high for myself last time, and I felt like I still had the command of all my pitches. I picked up right where I left off."

Jim Tracy raved about Duke and his stuff after the game.

"His changeup right now is devastating," Tracy said. "His fastball command is letter perfect. I mean, he looks tremendous right now."

Masumi Kuwata did not have the magic he had in his first appearance today, allowing three runs in two innings of work. Kuwata allowed a two-run home run by Kelly Johnson.

Ronny Paulino homered for the Bucs and Jose Castillo singled in three at-bats. Andrew McCutchen, the Pirates' top prospect, singled twice and doubled in five at-bats and is 8 for 19 this spring.

In the second game against the Indians, Neil Walker and Adam LaRoche were responsible for 5 of the Pirates six runs and Shawn Chacon tossed three shutout innings helping the Bucs raise their spring record to 3-6-1. Walker finished 2-for-3 with three runs driven in, while LaRoche had two RBI singles in three trips to the plate. Jason Bay drove in the other Pirates run with a double.

Sean Burnett tossed three innings of solid ball, allowing one run, but it was unearned and walking two. Chris Duffy went 0-for-3 to drop his spring average to .133

Other Notes from the Day:

-The Brad Eldred outfield experiment begins.

-Jody Gerut's 18 at-bats cost the Pirates 2 million dollars.
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