Kang Walk-Off Grand Slam Beats Baltimore

Jung-Ho will play shortstop tomorrow

Jeff Hathhorn
March 21, 2019 - 5:11 pm

93.7 the Fan

BRADENTON, FL (93.7 the Fan) – Jung-Ho Kang hit a walk-off grand slam as the Pirates won their fifth straight Grapefruit League game, beating Baltimore 7-5.  It was Kang’s seventh hit and sixth homer.

“It’s kinda funny how the spring has played out for him,” said manager Clint Hurdle.  “He’s had intent every time he’s gone out there, it’s just kinda worked out kinda weird.  First base hit since September (a double in the 2nd inning) that was not a homer, and then another homer.  That’s still crazy.”

Hurdle then confirmed after the game that Kang will play short Friday against Tampa Bay.  The first time he’s done that this spring.

“He’s probably played 15 to 18 pitches a game every game he’s played third at short,” Hurdle said.  “We run through our emergency situations.  We are talking through an emergency catcher.  We are talking through five-man infield.  We are talking about what happens depending on how the roster breaks.  We talked to him about it.  He was open and receptive to it.  We wanted to get it done before we got out of here.”

HR Day

Kang’s was one of four Pirates homers as Francisco Cervelli hit a solo homer to right and a late add to the lineup as Starling Marte was scratched for an unknown reason, rookie ball centerfielder Jonah Davis hit a pair of solo shots.

“He was here and he was a centerfielder,” Hurdle said of the decision.  “We didn’t even shuffle the lineup, he was going to play and I thought, ‘why overcook this thing, let him hit second’.  What a fantastic day for Jonah.”

The righty-hitting Davis was drafted in the 15th round last year out of the University of California.  He played in 51 games at Bristol, hitting .306 with 12 HR and a .612 slugging percentage.

“They were all telling me you have no name on the back,” Davis said.  “You are wearing a two-flap helmet up there, they are just going to come right at you.  After that first pitch was a ball, my initial thought was let’s hit a home run right here.  It was right there for me.”

Archer Makes Last Spring Start

Chris Archer breezed through the first three innings before giving up three runs in the fourth.

“The fourth inning, obviously, didn’t end ideally, I think I got a little fatigued there because my pitch count got a little high,” Archer said.  “But, the first three innings were right where I want to be, all of my stuff is there, definitely encouraging for those reasons.”

After Archer, lefty Tyler Lyons went on to pitch 1.1 innings, allowing a hit and no runs with a couple of strikeouts.  Kyle Crick went a perfect 6th striking out two as well.

“I think I’ve done ok,” Lyons said of his spring as his ERA dropped under 10.  “I think, for me, from a statistics standpoint, it’s not ideal.  But, for me, how I feel physically, that’s a big part of the spring for me.  Coming off of injuries and everything last year, just being able to feel good has been really been good for me.  Just being able to see some velocity and the action of pitches, I’m very pleased with that.  You have to get people out though too.”

“I think he continues to make small adjustments through Spring Training because there was some turbulence at the start and in the middle and he’s getting more efficient with his pitches,” Hurdle said.  “Throwing his change-up to right-handers and left-handers, the breaking ball is playing a little bit sharper.  He had a quick, efficient delivery too, the tempo was quicker and fresher.  He continues to improve.”

Liriano Starts

Along with Jung-Ho Kang starting at short for the first time, Francisco Liriano will make a first start in a Grapefruit League game.  Hurdle said Liriano will go a couple of innings to see how efficient he is with his pitches.  Bucs face Tampa Bay in Port Charlotte at 1:05.

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