Kevin Newman, Ke'Bryan Hayes stay hot, bullpen solid in Pirates' spring win

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Chris Adamski, The Tribune-Review, Greensburg
·3 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Mar. 4—Kevin Newman and Ke'Bryan continued to reach base and the Pittsburgh Pirates bullpen continued to put up zeros Thursday.

The Pirates beat the Atlanta Braves, 6-1, in a seven-inning game played at Bradenton's LECOM Park.

Hayes upped his spring on-base percentage to .556 with an RBI triple and single in his three at-bats. Newman, who started at shortstop and also played second base, went 2 for 2 with a walk and two runs, meaning he has reached base safely in seven of nine plate appearances over three Grapefruit League games.

Newman's start — small sample size noted — is especially encouraging after he followed hitting .308/.353/.406 as a rookie by hitting .224/.281/.276 last season.

"He's hit the ball hard," Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. "He's hit the ball to center and right-center field with some authority. That's a really good sign for him because last year at times, he had a tendency to get rotational and get off the ball. You guys saw him in '19. I've just seen video of it, but when he was good, he was using the middle part of the field. He's done that so far early in the spring."

Erik Gonzalez and non-roster reserve catcher Joe Hudson homered for the Pirates, who are 2-2-1 in the spring.

Veteran lefthander Tyler Anderson became the first Pirates pitcher to last two innings this spring. An offseason free-agent signee allowed a run on three hits with three strikeouts in two innings, providing no reason to believe he won't serve as the Pirates' fifth starter once the regular season begins.

"For the most part, we were ahead in the count," said Anderson, a 31-year-old former first-round pick. "Obviously, some pitches between there that I didn't like as much. But I attacked, got ahead, and the base hits that I gave up were kind of what I wanted to do (with the pitch and location)."

A very early bright spot for the Pirates has been a bullpen that Thursday followed Anderson with five scoreless innings — one each from Kyle Crick, Chasen Shreve, David Bednar, Sam Howard and Clay Holmes.

A walk from Howard and two singles against Holmes were the only baserunners Atlanta got against Pirates relievers, who combined for eight strikeouts.

That continued a weeklong trend so far this spring: 12 of the 17 Pirates relievers who have appeared in games so far this spring have not allowed a run. Ten have not allowed a hit; four have not allowed a baserunner. The bullpen has allowed 14 hits and has 30 strikeouts in 26 innings so far.

Bednar, a Mars Area High School graduate, struck out the side in the fifth. He and lefty Shreve have each been impressive in two respective outings each so far. Neither has allowed a hit or walk.

"(Bednar's) fastball was good again, and the philosophy was good," Shelton said. "The ability to execute at the top of the zone was outstanding. He went out there and did a good job throwing strikes."

Of Shreve, Shelton said: "He pitches to contact. He gets both sides out. He's been in the zone. So really good initial impression of him."

Of note for the longer-term future of the Pirates was that Oneil Cruz played center field. One of the Pirates' top prospects and purportedly a shortstop, the 6-foot-7 Cruz had a putout in his only defensive chance. He went 0 for 2 with a strikeout at the plate.

"He had the one fly ball that he caught and he did a good job on it," Shelton said. "I watched him shag today in a competition with a couple other guys, and he looks good moving out there."

Love baseball? Stay up-to-date with the latest Pittsburgh Pirates news.

Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris by email at cadamski@triblive.com or via Twitter .