Wandy, Marte and Tabata homer as Bucs rout Jays
Left-hander knocks two-run shot and allows three runs over 4 2/3 frames
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Starling Marte had five hits and Jose Tabata collected four hits with a home run and the two combined for eight RBIs on a blustery Tuesday as the Bucs downed Toronto, 22-5, at McKechnie Field.
Marte did all that damage within the first four innings, punctuating it with a three-run homer off Esmil Rogers in the fourth.
Tabata also homered in that eight-run fourth off Rogers and capped his game with an RBI double in the fifth that built the Pirates' lead to 14-3.
Pittsburgh ended up with 29 hits on a day manager Clint Hurdle went with his likely Opening Day lineup through six innings -- with the possible exception of the starting pitcher. Wandy Rodriguez started on Tuesday, and fellow left-hander Francisco Liriano is still scheduled to oppose the Cubs on March 31 in PNC Park.
Winding up his spring of redemption, Rodriguez went 4 2/3 innings, allowing six hits and three runs. The lefty drove in three himself, two on a second-inning homer.
Rebounding after missing the final four months of the 2013 season with arthritis in his forearm, Rodriguez allowed four earned runs in 11 2/3 innings in his four Grapefruit League starts and displayed sharp command, issuing five walks while striking out nine.
On Twitter, catcher Tony Sanchez hoped the Pirates would bring some of the offensive firepower into the regular season:
Jeez. Save some runs for Pittsburgh, fellas.- Tony Sanchez (@Tony26Montana) March 25, 2014
Left-hander J.A. Happ had another rough start for Toronto, being rocked for 12 hits in three-plus innings. Despite being charged with seven runs, his spring ERA rose only slightly, from 20.25 to 20.57.
"Results wise, it certainly wasn't a great but I think it definitely could have been quite a bit different," Happ said. "Take the positives of throwing strikes and 75 pitches, but of course, I'd like for things to go a little bit different."
Rodriguez got a ball up into a stiff left-to-right wind for the home run -- something he has never done in 437 at-bats during the regular season.
Up next: In their final road game of the Grapefruit League season, the Pirates travel to Ft. Myers to meet the Twins in a 1:05 p.m. game, with Brandon Cumpton making his sixth appearance, and second start, of the spring. With 15 1/3 innings, Cumpton has been the staff's spring workhorse. The game can be seen live on MLB.TV or fans can listen to an exclusive webcast on Pirates.com. Edinson Volquez, originally slated to start this game, will instead pitch a two-inning simulated game in camp.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.