Poor Pitching Performances Doom Red Sox Against Pirates

FORT MYERS, FL - MARCH 09: Vincente Padilla #44 of the Boston Red Sox pitches against the Pittsburgh Pirates during a Grapefruit League Spring Training Game at JetBlue Park on March 9, 2012 in Fort Myers, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)

After starting their Grapefruit League campaign 3-0, the Red Sox now find themselves winless in three straight games after a 7-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Though Clay Buchholz seemed to have better command of his pitches--in particular his fastball--than he had shown in his previous start, the results were not nearly so impressive this time. Buchholz' troubles would begin when Clint Barmes managed to put his bat on a well-placed changeup, tapping a single into the outfield. Andrew McCutchen would follow suit, singling to right when a pitch drifted back over the plate after looking foolish on Buchholz' first two offerings. From there, a groundout was enough to secure the 1-0 lead.

Buchholz would come back stronger, striking out Brandon Boggs in a 1-2-3 second inning, but the success would not last for long. Hitting the first batter of the third inning, Buchholz would nearly escape the frame before coming up against the red hot Andrew McCutchen. Once again showing his hitting prowess, McCutchen sent a double to the wall that just barely missed the stands. With Jordy Mercer racing all the way home from first, the Pirates took a 2-0 lead.

The Red Sox would get a boost in the bottom half of the fourth when David Ortiz took Tony Watson deep to right field--his second homer on the young year--but Vicente Padilla quickly extinguished any hope. After recording a clean fourth, Padilla found himself the victim of three straight one-out doubles in the fifth from Jose Tabata, Clint Barmes and--who else?--Andrew McCutchen. With a Garrett Jones single added in to top it all off, the Pirates left the inning four runs richer with a 6-1 lead.

The Sox would chip away again in the ensuing half inning, with a double from Josh Repko and single from Mike Aviles cutting the deficit to four runs. Once again, however, the Pirates had an answer, with Jose Tabata doubling in a run off Will Inman. The Sox would mount the final attacks, scoring in the bottom of the sixth on a single from Cody Ross and again in the seventh when Darnell McDonald went deep, but ultimately could not overcome the deficit left for them by the pitching staff.

The Good

Clay Buchholz' control was noticeably improved, even if the results weren't there. He got a number of swing-and-misses, showing his good changeup and placing his fastball with better consistency than in his previous start.

David Ortiz and Darnell McDonald of course get nods for their long balls.

The Bad

Vicente Padilla was brutalized in his second inning of work, and just looked entirely hittable. It's not a good omen for the man many are expecting to take the final rotation spot at some point this season.

The Ugly

Between fielding gaffes and baserunning blunders, this was another one of those Grapefruit League games that absolutely screams "Spring!"

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