The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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February 27, 2014

Pirates trip Yankees in spring opener

BRADENTON, Fla. —  Jacoby Ellsbury reached base in all three plate appearances of his New York Yankees’ spring training debut, scoring twice Wednesday in 6-5 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Ellsbury, who left World Series champion Boston for a $153 million, seven-year contract with New York, walked twice and had an infield single in the exhibition opener. He was on base in the second inning when Yangervis Solarte hit a two-run homer off Edinson Volquez.

Pittsburgh trailed 4-0 but scored twice in the second and four times in the seventh, when Tony Sanchez hit a tying three-run homer against Chase Whitley. Chris McGuiness had a go-ahead single that drove in former-Yankee Chris Dickerson.

Starting time

Yankees: Ivan Nova allowed two runs, two hits and two walks in 11⁄3 innings, facing eight batters and throwing 35 pitches.

“I did maybe more than I was expecting in the first game,” Nova said. “My arm feels really good and the ball was came out of my hand well. It was a really good day today.”

Pirates: Francisco Liriano gave up two runs, three hits and a walk in his one scheduled inning. He allowed four of his first five batters to reach.

“I was just working on my sinker and fastball,” he said. “I’ll throw my breaking stuff later this spring. I use my slider a lot, but first I need to get my release point with my fastball. Physically, I feel 100 percent.”

Liriano, the Pirates’ scheduled opening-day starter, was 16-8 with a 3.02 ERA last year and was selected NL Comeback Player of the Year.

Trainer’s room

First baseman/outfielder Travis Ishikawa played the first half-inning of the Pirates’ intrasquad scrimmage Tuesday, then left due to tightness in his right leg. He is expected to be out another day or two.

The big whiff

Pedro Alvarez led the NL with 186 strikeouts last season, and the Pirates hope he can cut down this year.

“To think that he’s ever going to be under 100 is unrealistic,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “But I do think the strikeout number can be shrunk to some degree.”

Alvarez struck out twice in three at-bats against the Yankees. He went down swinging in the first inning and took a called strike three in the second, stranding five runners.

 

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