BRADENTON, Fla. – Vince Velasquez finished a shaky spring training on a good note, but the Pittsburgh Pirates lost to the Baltimore Orioles 6-4 on Saturday night in a Grapefruit League game at LECOM Park.
Velasquez pitched one-run ball over five innings while striking out seven. He allowed three walks and three strikeouts.
Signed as a free agent in December, Velasquez had allowed eight runs in nine innings in major-league exhibitions games prior to Saturday. All four of his Grapefruit League starts came against the Orioles.
This marked Velasquez’s last start of the spring. The Pirates open the regular season next Thursday against the Reds in Cincinnati.
“This is definitely a step in the right direction, a big, big step in the right direction, realizing that the season is right around the corner,” Velasquez said. “I think I’m barely tapping into some really good stuff. I’m thrilled. I’m really excited just to be in the rotation. I’m really excited to take on any task at hand. No matter if it’s success or failure, I’m ready to learn.”
Pirates shortstop Oneil Cruz went 2 for 4 with a walk and two runs scored while committing a throwing error in an attempt to turn a double play. Minor-leaguer Mike Jarvis hit a two-run triple and Canaan Smith-Njigba had an RBI infield single.
The Orioles scored four runs off losing pitcher Wil Crowe in the seventh inning to snap a 1-1 tie. Anthony Benboom hit a two-run home run as Crowe allowed three hits and two walks in 0.1 inning.
Pirates Rule 5 Draft pick Jose Hernandez surrendered a solo homer to Ryan O’Hearn in the eighth inning.
Another lefty reliever, Angel Perdomo, relieved Velasquez with a runner on first in the sixth inning and immediately induced a double play ball. Perdomo also had a strikeout, giving him 13 in 9.1 innings.
The Pirates (9-15-4) travel to North Port, Fla., to face the Atlanta Braves at 1:05 p.m. Sunday. Left-hander Rich Hill is scheduled to start for the Pirates against Spencer Strider.