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Sunday, March 4, 2012
Michael Kirkman better than box score

By Richard Durrett

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- At first glance, you might think Michael Kirkman had a confidence-zapping first Cactus League outing. He gave up four runs (three earned) on five hits in two innings of work. And there's no question some of his fastballs and sliders caught too much of the plate, especially against right-handers.

But Kirkman pitched better than his line indicated and his job is to get left-handed hitters out. He was pleased with how he approached them. They went 2-for-4 off him, but both hits weren't hard. He threw a four-seam fastball to Mike Moustakas and gave up a bloop single to left field on a pitch that jammed him. Kirkman got inside again on Alex Gordon, giving up a soft single. He got Eric Hosmer to ground out on a slider, but Ian Kinsler had an error that allowed a couple of runs to score. In Kirkman's second inning (the sixth), Mitch Maier pinch hit and popped up on a fastball inside.

"I felt good and I attacked the lefties the way I wanted," Kirkman said. "They found some holes, but I jammed guys. If I pitch like that two days from now, I'll be happy. I got my slider over for strikes and down and away from lefties and then came inside with my fastball. That's what I've got to do."

Manager Ron Washington was pleased, saying Kirkman could have had better results.

"I thought he pitched well," Washington said. "He went back out there and pounded the strike zone the second inning. He jammed them and they got hits. That's baseball."