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Bucs get hitting, but no pitching, twice

From Mirror, wire reports

In a split-squad exhibition on Wednesday, the Pittsburgh Pirates dropped two games, losing 9-7 to the Philadelphia Phillies at Clearwater and 9-7 to the Atlanta Braves at Bradenton.

In the loss to the Phillies, starting pitcher Hector Noesi gave up four earned runs in just two innings of work. He struck out two, walked one and surrendered five hits. Relief pitchers Luis Escobar and Yacksel Rios each worked an inning and each gave up two earned runs.

Offensively, the Pirates (2-10-1) got homers from Adam Frazier and Lolo Sanchez, who has hit two this spring. Kevin Kramer added two hits to go with a two-run double from Philip Evans.

In the setback to the Braves, starter Trevor Williams was strong for the Pirates, giving up just one earned run in three innings. He gave up two hits, struck out three and walked one. The bullpen was knocked around as Chris Stratton gave up three earned runs in one inning on three hits. Miguel Del Pozo also gave up three earned runs but in just two-thirds of an inning. Richard Rodriguez did strike out two of the three batters he faced in one inning.

Offensively, Jacob Stallings had two hits for the Pirates and Bryan Reynolds had a two-run homer. Cole Tucker and Josh Bell also both hit two-run homers.

The Pirates will play Tampa Bay today at 1:05 p.m. Derek Holland is scheduled to start for Pittsburgh with Chad Kuhl, Keone Kela, Kyle Crick and J.T. Brubaker slated to see work in relief.

Rays threatened

TAMPA, Fla. — A New York sports gambler is facing federal charges in Florida related to threatening social media messages sent to players with the Tampa Bay Rays and other teams, federal authorities said Wednesday.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Tampa announced a charge of transmitting threats in interstate or foreign commerce against Benjamin Tucker Patz, 23. He faces up to five years in federal prison.

Patz made numerous violent threats last year against athletes and their family members through anonymous Instagram accounts, according to a criminal complaint. In many messages, Patz threatened to enter the athletes’ homes and behead them or their family members, the FBI said. Some of Patz’s threats also contained derogatory terms and racial slurs, investigators said.

The Tampa Bay Rays lost a home baseball game last July to the Chicago White Sox. An account linked to Patz later sent threatening Instagram messages to four players for the Rays and one player for the White Sox, according to authorities. None of the players were identified by name, only initials.

“Your family will be beheaded,” said one of the messages, quoted in the criminal complaint.

Patz, who resides in New York and California, goes by the moniker “Parlay Patz.” FBI investigators said they found online articles that claimed he had recently won more than $1 million by wagering on sports events.

Over the past year, Patz has sent threatening messages through social media to numerous professional athletes, investigators said. After losing $10,000 by betting on the Los Angeles Rams to win last year’s Super Bowl, Patz sent messages to two players on the game’s winning team, the New England Patriots, claiming that he would rape and murder their families, the indictment said.

The complaint also lists threats against players for the Atlanta Braves, the San Diego Padres, the Oakland Athletics, the Cleveland Indians, the Baltimore Orioles and the Kansas City Royals. One of Patz’s accounts also threatened a player for the Swedish women’s soccer team after they beat Germany in the Women’s World Cup Quarter-Final, instigators said.

U.S. Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Amy Filjones said Patz was charged in Florida’s Middle District because the Rays players were there when the threats were made. It wasn’t immediately clear if Patz would face charges in other districts for the other threats.

Keeping Yelich in town

PHOENIX — Christian Yelich is staying quiet when it comes to his contract situation with the Milwaukee Brewers.

While Yelich is brushing off questions about his new deal, his teammates are all-too-happy to sing his praises. The 28-year-old is reportedly on the brink of a multiyear contract that could keep him in Milwaukee for the rest of his career. The team said the 2018 NL MVP wouldn’t answer questions about the negotiations on Wednesday, and the organization also declined comment.

Yelich is guaranteed $27.75 million in the remainder of his current deal: $12.5 million this year, $14 million in 2021 and a $1.25 million buyout of a 2022 team option for $16 million. The Athletic reported his new deal would add seven years and increase the total value to approximately $215 million.

“He definitely deserves it,” Brewers center fielder Lorenzo Cain said. “The guy’s definitely the best player on our team. He rakes. Like I said, he got a deserving contract for sure.”

Milwaukee obtained Yelich and Cain on the same January day in 2018. Yelich was acquired in a trade with Miami, and Cain agreed to an $80 million, five-year contract as a free agent.

The silky smooth Yelich turned into one of the game’s most feared sluggers in Milwaukee. He led the NL with a .326 batting average, .598 slugging percentage and 1.000 OPS while helping the Brewers make it to the NL Championship Series in his first year with the team. He hit 44 homers and won another NL batting title with a career-high .329 average last season.

“Christian in his first two years here, you know he has done incredible things,” manager Craig Counsell said, “and I think he’s taken this challenge, and took a trade that was probably to a place that he wasn’t sure about at the outset of it and made the best of it and found a place that he really likes to play.”

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