Spring training breakdown: Dominican Republic 10, Pirates 6
Charlotte Sports Park, Port Charlotte, Fla.
Rays starter: LHP Blake Snell
Pirates starter: RHP Chad Kuhl
Dominican Republic 10, Pirates 6
Some festiveness: A handful of Dominican fans sat above their team's dugout along the third-base line at LECOM Park. They got enthusiastic during certain points in the game, cheering loudly while one banged a Palo drum and another used a noise-making shaker. “It was kind of a cool atmosphere,” Pirates starter Gerrit Cole said. “Something we're used to, and it's pretty special.”
Familiar left-field arm: It hasn't been uncommon the past couple of years for the Pirates' left fielder to have an outfield assist. But Wednesday, it wasn't Starling Marte — the NL leader in outfield assists in 2015 and 2016 — who made the throw. It was Marte (playing for the Dominican) who was thrown out by Eury Perez while trying to stretch a single into a double in the fifth.
Finally got to him: To say Jumbo Diaz has had success against the Pirates is an understatement: The Cincinnati Reds right-hander has faced them more in the regular season than any opponent over the past three seasons (21 games, 19 1⁄3 innings), and he has not allowed a run. Wednesday's exhibition game was much different: Each of the three batters he faced in the second inning reached base, and all three eventually scored.
Don't I know you?: While Marte and Gregory Polanco were locks to make the Dominican's roster and obvious choices to be in the lineup for a game at LECOM Park, seeing Tyler Eppler in a red “DR” hat and “DOMINICAN” jersey might have seemed peculiar. Eppler, a Texas native in his fourth season in the Pirates' organization, switched sides to pitch 2 2⁄3 innings. American-born Pirates property Cody Dickson, Jared Lakind and Montana DuRapau followed on the mound for the Dominican before Junior Lopez, a Dominican-born righty in the Pirates' organization, pitched the ninth. With WBC play beginning for the Dominican Republic on Thursday, it wanted to preserve its pitchers' arms, so the Pirates provided pitchers for the rest of the game after Wily Peralta, Diaz and Luis Gonzalez.