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Spring training breakdown: Orioles 7, Pirates 6

| Saturday, March 11, 2017, 6:51 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates third baseman Gift Ngoepe scores during the ninth inning against the Orioles Saturday, March 11, 2017, at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Fla.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
The Orioles' Paul Janish tags out the Pirates' Josh Bell at second base during their game Saturday, March 11, 2017, at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Fla.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates third baseman Gift Ngoepe scores during the ninth inning against the Orioles Saturday, March 11, 2017, at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Fla.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates second baseman Max Moroff flips the ball to shortstop Alen Hanson to start a double play during a game against the Orioles Saturday, March 11, 2017, at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Fla.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates pitcher Clay Holmes delivers during the first inning against the Orioles Saturday, March 11, 2017, at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Fla.

Sunday's game

vs. Twins

1:05 p.m.

LECOM Park,

Bradenton, Fla.

Pirates starter:

RHP Trevor Williams

Twins starter:

RHP Ryan Vogelsong

TV/radio:

Root Sports/93.7 FM

Saturday's result

Orioles 7, Pirates 6

Swift Gift: Gift Ngoepe has 88 steals in eight minor-league seasons: a solid number but not the total of a true burner middle infielder. But he showed some wheels with a triple in the fifth and by scoring from first base on a ninth-inning, two-out double down the line by Alen Hanson. Ngoepe, who at 27 is running out of time to make it to the majors, played the entire game at third base and reached all four times he came up. “He's fun to watch,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “Today he was in perfect form. He was under control, was aggressive in the strike zone, and as I have shared with him, ‘You have a chance of being that guy who can really pick it and (be) called up on emergency or when somebody's hurt. Or you can be a guy who can handle the bat, do some things and pick it everywhere and play in the big leagues a long time.' That's the next challenge, the next step in front of him.”

Rough first start: Clay Holmes' first start for a major league team in spring training was not strong. Five of the 10 batters he faced reached base, two scored and he couldn't get out of the second inning. “A young man getting his first spring training start, and I think he just got caught up in overthrowing,” Hurdle said. “A lot of balls up in the zone.” But while each of the first four Orioles of the game reached, Holmes did not allow a run and retired five of the final six he faced (two via strikeout) after that. “The fact I competed and fought back was good,” said Holmes, a 23-year-old who spent last season at Double-A Altoona.

Defeated snatched from the jaws of victory: The Pirates entered Saturday with the majors' best spring record and were two outs away from improving to 12-3 before Miguel Rosario served up a one-out single to Craig Gentry, and David Washington followed with a high home run for a walk-off Orioles win.

Working walks: Max Moroff, a candidate for a super-utility bench role with the Pirates, is batting .125 over 10 games this spring, but his on-base percentage is .500. Moroff, a middle infielder who played two games for the Pirates last season, has drawn six walks. All six came over consecutive plate appearances covering his past three games. “He's been that kind of guy throughout his minor league career,” Hurdle said. “There's nothing wrong with there comes a point in time in an at-bat when a walk becomes real, and a walk can become real with Max during his at-bat.”

— Chris Adamski

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