Snider delivers as Blue Jays beat Bucs
Left fielder drives in three runs as Toronto takes spring rematch
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Travis Snider drove in three runs -- two on a comebacker to the pitcher -- as the Blue Jays downed the Pirates, 8-5, to sweep the teams' Grapefruit League-opening two-game series.Snider's RBI single snapped a 3-3 tie in the fourth, and his rare two-run comebacker in the sixth gave the Blue Jays an 8-3 lead. "Good day today -- I had a variety of opportunities in the field, on the bases and at the plate," Snider said. "Just getting out there and competing against somebody other than guys on your own team. You go through the first two weeks and you're just practicing.
"Batting practice, it gets a little monotonous, but you put the work in, get the drills done, so when game time comes, you're able to make good decisions and get back into game shape."
Rod Barajas, the 36-year-old veteran signed as a free agent to be the Pirates' starting catcher, went 2-for-2, including a two-run single in the third that gave the Bucs a brief 3-2 lead, their first of the spring.The Blue Jays took advantage of some early wildness by Pirates starter Erik Bedard to grab a 2-0 lead in the first. Leadoff batter Rajai Davis was hit by a pitch and Snider doubled, and they alternately scored on a Ben Francisco sacrifice fly and Brett Lawrie groundout. Chase d'Arnaud singled for a run off Toronto starter Aaron Laffey in the second, before Barajas' hit off Darren Oliver gave Pittsburgh the lead. With runners on second and third and none out in the sixth, Snider sent a roller to the left of the mound that pitcher Evan Meek fielded on the run. With no one else covering first base, Meek won the race to the bag to retire Snider, but both runners came around to score. Nick Evans, the former Mets first baseman in camp as a non-roster invitee, led off the seventh with a solo homer off Robert Coello for the Pirates' first jack of the spring. Gorkys Hernandez's RBI single with two outs in the inning made it 8-5. The standout defensive play of the game belonged to Toronto catcher Jeff Mathis in the fifth inning, when left-handed-hitting Alex Presley pushed a perfect bunt 15 feet between the mound and the foul line. Mathis pounced on the ball and in the same motion whirled a throw to first that nailed Presley. Up next for Blue Jays: Henderson Alvarez is set to make his first start of the spring when the Blue Jays travel to Lakeland, Fla., to take on the Tigers. The second-year hurler was originally supposed to make his Grapefruit season debut on Sunday, but the club felt an additional day of rest would be appropriate, considering his workload during previous bullpen sessions. Also scheduled to pitch are Drew Carpenter, Evan Crawford, Jesus Figueroa, Jason Frasor, Jerry Gil and Jim Hoey. The Blue Jays will give the majority of their regulars a day off in preparation for Tuesday's home game against the Phillies.
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.