TAMPA — Opening Day starter Kevin Correia said he feels ready for the season after turning in a solid performance today in a 4-2 loss against the Yankees. The right-hander worked six innings and allowed three runs on five hits, walked two and struck out five. He threw 92 pitches (59 strikes).
“That was definitely my best outing of the spring,” Correia said. “I felt strong the whole time. I gave up a two-run homer to a pretty good hitter (Alex Rodriguez), but besides that it was pretty good.”
With two outs in the first inning, Correia just missed with a 3-2 slider and walked Mark Teixeira. A-Rod sent the next pitch over the center field wall. In the fourth, Nick Swisher singled, went to second when Jorge Posada walked and scored on Chris Dickerson’s single.
The Yankees acquired Dickerson a couple of days ago from Milwaukee. “Dickerson always hits me pretty well,” Correia said, smiling. “He got two more hits off me today.”
Three of Correia’s strikeouts came against some pretty good hitters — Swisher, Posada and Derek Jeter. The Yankees used most of what should be their regular lineup.
“You want your last spring training outing to be good,” Correia said. “You don’t want to go into the season thinking about how you didn’t pitch well the time before. I feel good about this one, all in all.”
»»» Righty Mike Crotta gave up his first earned run of the spring, snapping his string of 10 1/3 innings. Ramiro Pena singled, moved up on sacrifice bunt and scored on Austin Krum’s two-out single to right. Crotta got out of the inning by freezing Posada with a fastball for a strikeout. I believe Crotta has a good chance to grab that last bullpen job.
“He’s pitching out of the bullpen now and that’s not something he did last year,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “He’s a big guy (6-feet-6, 235 pounds), he repeats his delivery pretty well, he’s got good downhill plane. It’s hard sink, mid-90s mph sink and he’s added a complementary breaking ball. And he’s pounded the strike zone. Those things are always going to work. We’ll see how he finishes it off, but he has done everything he could possibly do to build his confidence and let us know that maybe we should give him an opportunity, and possibly sooner than later.”
»»» Right-hander Jameson Taillon pitched today against the Yanks’ Class A team. He tossed three scoreless innings and gave up three hits.
»»» The Pirates have lost five games in a row. Hurdle was asked if it’s important to get a win or two in the final few days of spring training, if for no other reason than to generate some momentum for the regular season.
“We play every game to win,” Hurdle said. “But if we don’t, we don’t. When we start the season, we’re not going to have any. We just haven’t played complete games for the last 10-11 games. You’ve got to throw a complete package out there. I’ll be more concerned when we’re running our regular team out there. We’ve been trying to take a very good inventory of all our players this spring and challenging guys in different situations. Winning’s always the intent, but the focus will shift to a higher degree of that once the season starts.”