Juan Minaya surrendered a three-run homer in the eighth inning to Seth Green as the Pittsburgh Pirates lost their spring finale 7-5 to the Minnesota Twins at LECOM Park on Tuesday.
Green’s home run capped off a four-run eighth inning for the Twins in their comeback win over Pittsburgh.
Johan Oviedo was the Pirates’ starter and pitched well. He covered five innings, allowed pair of runs on six hits, didn’t walk a batter and struck out seven. His slider looked sharp and generated plenty of swings and misses. It marked his second straight start with seven punchouts.
In wake of the JT Brubaker injury news, Oviedo in all likelihood will be a part of the Pirates’ regular season rotation. General manager Ben Cherington discussed he needed more than five starters, and that will immediately be put to the test.
“We’re going to open with five starters. We’re going to need more than that. Really believe we’re starting to get a group, whether they’re in Pittsburgh or in Indy, that have a chance to grow into good Major League starters in the long haul,” said Cherington.
Canaan Smith-Njigba has been one of the Pirates top performers this spring and that continued on Tuesday afternoon. The Pirates’ outfielder clubbed an opposite-field, three-run shot in the sixth inning to put the Pirates up 4-2. Ji-Man Choi added an RBI-single later in the inning.
After an Oneil Cruz double, Maikol Escotto, who pinch ran for Cruz, trotted home to score on an Andrew McCutchen sacrifice fly to tie the game 1-1 in the fourth.
The Pirates wrap up spring training with a record of 9-18-4.
The next order of business for the Pirates will be to finalize their initial 26-man roster and Cherington has a couple of decisions remaining.
“I think as we look at Opening Day and the roster that we’d anticipate having in Pittsburgh and also Indy, really believe that that competition will continue into this season. We’re going to have guys starting in Indy who are going to be disappointed to be there. Those will be tough conversations. That’s also an opportunity though,” he said.
The next time you see the Pirates take the field, it will count. The Bucs are heading to Cincinnati to face the Reds on Opening Day on Thursday. Mitch Keller was named the Pirates’ Opening Day starter and he will go against Reds right-hander Hunter Greene. First pitch: 4:10.