Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Bigger They Are...

Over 30,000 fans packed PNC tonight, and hey, guess what? A real ball game broke out!

The Big O and Cliff Lee each worked seven innings, giving up a pair of runs apiece. Then in the eighth, with the bullpens on duty, both sides juiced the bases without a hit; they were all walked full. John Grabow got out of his jam with a big K. The Indians did it with a little help.

Joe Smith got the first Buc, and then walked the next pair. Eric Wedge went, reluctantly we're sure, to the well again and called on Rafael Perez. He walked Brandon Moss on four pitches. But Jason Jaramillo swung at the first pitch, a knee high heater off the plate, and rolled into an easy 6-3 DP. Take a strike, please!

Matt Capps blew through the Indians 1-2-3, and Matt Herges came on for the Tribe. Bang! A liner into left by Jack Splat (who was 3-for-3 with a walk). Boom! A two-strike liner into left by pinch-hitter Eric Hinske. First and second for wunderkind Andrew McCutchen.

JR had him bunt. He rolled the first offering foul. On the next, the Indians put on the wheel play, with the shortstop breaking to cover third. In a savvy move, Wilson fell in step with Jhonny Peralta and stole third while Cutch took a ball. Bam! Another liner into left, and the Bucs had their first walk-off win of the year, 3-2.

Hey, it may be too soon to anoint McCutchen as the next big thing, but right now isn't the time to tug on his cape. He went 2-for-4 with a walk & stolen base, scored the first run and drove home the last two.

Cutch has a .330 average, 18 RBI and 14 runs scored in 20 games, and his .516 slugging percentage is the best on the team. And the energy he and Nyjer Morgan bring to the team with their mid-air bumps and goofin' have injected some life in an otherwise business-as-usual, button-down group of Pirates.

The Bucs are hangin' in there. Oh, they're still in last, six games back, five in the loss column. And things will surely get worse when the inevitable fire sale begins in earnest. But it sure is nice to see a couple of pieces falling in place.

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