Cole electric, helping Pirates handle Spain
Pitching prospect fans six in three innings; Sanchez doubles and homers
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Gerrit Cole fanned the first six batters he faced and Gaby Sanchez went 3-for-3 with a tape-measure home run as the Pirates downed Team Spain, 10-0, in a pre-World Baseball Classic exhibition at McKechnie Field on Tuesday.
Spain starter Yoanner Negrin matched Cole's zeros for two innings before the Pirates broke through against reliever Rhiner Cruz for three runs in the third.
The Pirates had mistreated Cruz when he pitched for the Astros last season, and they weren't too kind to him as a member of Spain, either. The Houston reliever faced Pittsburgh seven times in 2012, and the Bucs nicked him for four runs in six innings. In Tuesday's game, Pittsburgh broke a scoreless tie against him with the third-inning rally highlighted by Sanchez's RBI double.
Cole had to pitch out of serious trouble in the third. After Jesus Merchan became the first to lay his bat on a ball, leading off by grounding out to short, singles by Yasser Gomez and Gabriel Suarez placed runners on the corners with one out. Cole picked Suarez off first, then found himself in the same pickle by walking Daniel Figueroa. Cole ended the inning by getting Paco Figueroa on a grounder to second.
Pittsburgh broke open the game with four runs in the fifth, which Sanchez led off with a shot over the new left-field stands of McKechnie Field. Anderson Hernandez later added a three-run blow. Both homers came off Eddie Morlan.
Stolmy Pimentel followed with two innings, and Andrew Oliver chipped in one inning.
Pirates up next: The Pirates will meet Red Sox Nation in Fort Myers, Fla., on Wednesday at 1:35 p.m. ET in a game that will air on Gameday Audio. Jeff Locke revisits the site where he was ambushed by three first-inning runs on Friday to make another start against Boston. The Bucs will be returning to their regular lineup, with the exceptions of Brandon Inge at designated hitter and Michael McKenry doing the catching.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.