BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) -- Tom Gorzelanny learned he would pitch the Pittsburgh Pirates' third game of the season, then was given a mandate by manager Jim Tracy to stop getting himself into first-inning trouble in nearly every game he starts.
But Gorzelanny went out and walked two of the first three hitters he faced, setting the tone for a two-run Tampa Bay first inning and a 12-4 Devil Rays victory Sunday in which the Pirates pitched poorly, were sloppy in the field and did little against pitcher Jae Seo.Seo became only the fourth pitcher in the Devil Rays' 10-season history to pitch seven innings in an exhibition game, limiting the Pirates to two runs and five hits. The right-hander has a 1.69 ERA this spring against major league hitters, convincing manager Joe Maddon he could start the season now."He's ready," Maddon said.Gorzelanny? His 9.45 ERA suggests he has some work to do, even though Tracy told him he will start April 4 in Houston. Gorzelanny (2-5, 3.79 ERA in 11 starts last season) was outpitched all spring by fellow left-hander Sean Burnett, who had a 0.00 ERA in 11 1-3 innings, yet Burnett will begin the season in Triple-A."To say Tom Gorzelanny has been terrible would be inaccurate," Tracy said. "He's had a little trouble in the first inning of games. ... He knows what he has to do to fix it, so the message is, `Fix it, we need you."Gorzelanny didn't get much help on a day second baseman Jose Castillo dropped a pop fly, left fielder Xavier Nady lost Shawn Riggans' double in a cloudless sky and catcher Humberto Cota threw the ball into center field on a double steal. Gorzelanny also dropped a throw on a play at first base.Still, Gorzelanny might have had better results if he hadn't walked B.J. Upton and Ty Wigginton in the first, leading to Delmon Young's ground single against a drawn-in infield -- the first of Young's three hits.Jonny Gomes also hit a two-run homer and doubled against Gorzelanny, who gave up seven runs, five earned, in five innings yet lowered his ERA from 9.60 to 9.45."They had the two-run first against him, and that's two bases on balls," Tracy said. "As we told him, there were things we saw today that aren't going to win for you, and he has to realize that."Gorzelanny will make only one more start in Florida, and the left-hander understands he must begin pitching better."Nobody wants to come in here and say, `I gave up seven,' and it's, `Oh, all right, cool, thanks," he said. "You're not going to be happy about that, are you? But the main objective is to get ready for the season, get your arm in shape, get your body in shape, get your pitches down and your mechanics down."Pirates closer Salomon Torres was even worse, walking three and giving up four runs while retiring only one batter in the ninth."If he's got to get it out of his system, get it out now," Tracy said.Seo, by contrast, had so few problems that Maddon kept him in the game even after he gave up two runs in the sixth."I started thinking too much. I was telling myself, `Just throw, just throw," said Seo, who retired all three batters he faced in the seventh. "In the seventh, I had a new mind."
Tracy has the Pirates' rotation set up so Zach Duke and Ian Snell will pitch twice each in the first seven games. Duke, Snell and Gorzelanny face Houston from April 2-4, with Paul Maholm, Duke and Tony Armas opposing the Reds from April 6-8. ... Snell starts the home opener against St. Louis on April 8. ... Since their off day Monday, the Devil Rays are 5-0-1 while outscoring their opponents 50-13.