The Pirates choke away a 7-0 lead, lose to the Mets 9-8

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There has been some ugly baseball played in this Pirates-Mets series, and today may have been the ugliest.

The Pirates had a 7-0 lead after three innings. The Mets’ comeback began conventionally enough with a three-run homer by Carlos Beltran. Then things got smaller and slightly unconventional in the sixth, with New York scoring runs on a couple of singles and one on a passed ball. It was tied 7-7 after six.

In the eighth inning it got a lot more nutty:  Ronny Paulino led off with a single and was pinch-run for by Willie Harris.  Chris Capuano was then called on to pinch hit, which obviously meant a bunt. He squared to bunt, and after a foul ball, Pirates pitcher Jose Veras was called for a balk, allowing Harris to advance to second.

Because Terry Collins doesn’t take in Mets games from a barcalounger like Jerry Manuel used to, he realized that the situation had changed and that a bunt was no longer called for given that there was a runner in scoring position and one out.  He pulled Capuano for Josh Thole, who drew a walk. Meanwhile, Harris had reached on a wild pitch and Ruben Tejada plated him with a sac fly. Then it became a parade of walks, with Daniel Murphy, Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran all getting free passes, leading to one more run. At that point it’s 9-7 and the game is pretty much sealed.

That was the Mets biggest comeback in 11 years and their second biggest comeback of all time. Credit should go to Terry Collins, certainly, and to Beltran for that big blast.

The rest of it though? Boy, Pirates, that was exactly the kind of baseball that the Mets got yelled at for playing yesterday.  Just bad, bad stuff.

Video: Andrew Toles hammers grand slam in Cactus League win

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Dodgers’ left fielder Andrew Toles crushed his first spring training home run on Saturday afternoon. With the bases loaded and a two-run deficit hanging over their heads in the fourth inning, Toles stepped up to the plate against Oakland right-hander Jesse Hahn and unloaded a grand slam on the second pitch he saw.

Third baseman Justin Turner was quick to follow up with a solo jack of his own, bringing the score to a comfortable 7-4 lead by the end of the fourth. Another three-run outburst in the fifth and an eighth-inning RBI single by Austin Barnes raised the final score to 11-6… which, coincidentally, was the same score the Reds used to defeat the Athletics’ second split-squad lineup on Saturday (albeit with a few more RBI walks than grand slams).

Toles, 24, is approaching his sophomore season with the Dodgers in 2017. He slashed .314/.365/.505 with three home runs and an .870 OPS in his first major league season in 2016 and is expected to platoon with the right-handed Franklin Gutierrez in left field this year.

David Price’s season debut could be pushed back to May

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David Price showed “strength improvements” in his elbow on Saturday, but Red Sox’ manager John Farrell still doesn’t think the left-hander will be ready to throw by the start of the season — or for a few weeks afterward. According to ESPN’s Scott Lauber, the 31-year-old might not be ready to debut until May at the earliest.

Price hasn’t thrown off of a mound this spring after experiencing soreness in his left elbow on March 1. Surgery doesn’t appear to be necessary, but the Red Sox are playing it extra safe with their No. 3 starter in hopes that rest and rehabilitation will return him to full health sometime during the 2017 season. For now, Price has been restricted to short games of catch until he’s cleared to resume a more rigorous throwing program. Via MLB.com’s Ian Browne:

[There were] strength improvements to the point of putting the ball back in his hand a little more consistently,” said manager John Farrell. “Today’s the first step for that. A short game of catch. That’s what he’s going through. Not off a mound but just to get the arm moving with a ball in flight, and he will continue in this phase for a period of time. There’s no set distance and volume yet to the throws.

The lefty is coming off of a lackluster 2016 season, during which he delivered a 3.99 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 230 innings for the Red Sox.