Nicasio strong again as Pirates beat Twins
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Juan Nicasio pitched well again Monday, throwing five scoreless innings and striking out eight against the Twins. He now has 15 scoreless innings this spring and has struck out 24 batters during that span.
And today, he had to: He put men in scoring position in three of his five innings. He struck out three in a row to end the first inning, two in a row to end the third.
“Today I tried,” he said. “Three times in this game I had a runner at third, second, one out, nobody out, I tried to strike out everybody.”
Don’t read too much into spring stats, but Nicasio’s K-heavy outings in the past two games have come against lineups featuring major league regulars. Today, Byron Buxton, Danny Santana, Kurt Suzuki and Brian Dozier were in the lineup. The Pirates won’t pick their fourth and fifth starters on stats alone, but Nicasio’s work behind the stats could make it difficult for them to leave him out of the rotation. Or not.
“It’s not difficult,” said bench coach Dave Jauss, who managed the split-squad roster that faced the Twins in Fort Myers. ”Decisions when people are doing good are really good decisions. When people are struggling, then they become difficult, because then you have to decide rather than them get to decide.”
Read more about Nicasio’s bid for the rotation on our Web site.
Neftali Feliz and Jim Fuller each pitched two scoreless innings. Starling Marte and Chris Stewart each had a hit, and Stewart scored on a throwing error. David Freese went 1 for 3 with a first-inning double off the chalk line in right field.
The Pirates are off Tuesday. Jeff Locke will start Wednesday against the Orioles in Sarasota. Mark Melancon and Cory Luebke are scheduled to pitch, and Gerrit Cole will pitch in a minor league game at Pirate City Wednesday.