Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Bucs End Card Jinx

Boy, it was a bad start for Jeff Suppan and the Cards tonight. McCutch started off by walking, and went to second on a passed ball. JT moved him to third on a bounce out, and he scored as Suppan missed a toss from Sir Albert on Neil Walker's grounder. Walker came in after Garrett Jones' homer to center for a quick 3-0 lead.

With two away, Brian Burres gave up a single and walk to Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday, but escaped without any damage.

The Bucs looked like they were in business again when Ronny Cedeno started the frame off with a book rule double, but it fizzled when Brandon Moss lined one to Pujols, who turned and doubled Cedeno off second. Matt Pagnozzi made amends for his PB when he whacked a homer, his first in the show.

The Bucs went 1-2-3 in the third. Walks and Cedeno cost Burres a run. Tyler Greene drew a walk; a batter later, so did Pujols. Holliday hit a perfect one-hop DP ball to short; Cedeno muffed the catch and then made a hurried sidearm throw to second that Walker could only knock down, allowing a run to score. But BB left runners at second and third to keep the score 3-2.

That's the fourth straight game that Cedeno has recorded an error; you have to wonder two things: will Argenis Diaz/Pedro Ciriaco ever get a shot at the spot, and will the Pirates continue to consider him their everyday guy for 2011? So much ability, so little consistency...

Pedro drilled a single with one away, followed by Dewey rolling to second for a tag 'em out, throw 'em out DP. Burres tossed a clean fourth.

The Pirates went down in order again, thanks to a fine grab by Colby Rasmus on a Burres shot to center. BB faced three batters, too. After a one out single, Pujols rifled a hot shot to Pedro, who started a 5-4-3 around the horn DP.

The Bucs tacked another run on. McCutch and JT singled up the middle to start the sixth. Neil Walker smoked a liner to center, right at Rasmus, and it moved McCutch to third. That shot brought out Tony LaRussa; he brought in LOOGY Trever Miller. Jones greeted him with a liner up the middle that ticked off SS Brendan Ryan's mitt for an RBI.

With two away, Burres gave up a single, and JR brought on Chris Resop to get the last out; he did, with a K of Pagnozzi. BB went 5-2/3 innings, giving up two runs (one earned), four hits and three walks.

Fernando Salas worked the seventh. He walked the bases full with two away - he would throw 32 pitches in the inning - but the Pirates failed to make him pay when Walker tapped back to the mound. Sean Gallagher held the lead, giving up just a single in the St. Louis half.

Pittsburgh loaded the bases with one out in the eighth against Mike MacDougal after a Jones double and two walks. Pujols looked like he saved the inning when playing in, he barehanded a soft chop from Alex Presley and barely got Jones at the dish. But the Bucs finally cashed in. Pinch hitter John Bowker lined a two-out, bases-clearing double to the wall, and it was 7-2.

Evan Meek came on to face the heart of the Card order. He struck out the side, marred by hitting Aaron Miles on the arm with two away. Aaron Miles pitched for the Cards; why a position player is eating an inning with the September bullpen bulging at the seams is another LaRussa enigma.

Miles has pitched mop-up already this season, and throwing in the mid-to-upper 60's, he got the Bucs, giving up just a Walker double. Chris Leroux came on in the ninth for the Pirates, and three batters later, Pittsburgh had broken its seven game losing streak at Busch Stadium.

J-Mac goes against PJ Walters tomorrow; Adam Wainwright was scheduled, but the Cards are shutting him down for the last week of the season. After tomorrow's get-away game, the Bucs end their year with a four-game trip to Florida.

-- During a post-game FSN interview, Garrett Jones hinted that PNC Park fostered some bad habits in his at-bats, mentioning that the short porch in right and the 410' Notch in left center got him into a mindset of pulling the ball instead of staying back, sticking with a short swing and using the whole field.

-- Brandon Moss got the start in right field today. He hit two balls on the nose, but right at people, and walked before he was removed for a pinch runner in the seventh inning.

-- JR said he didn't argue a key missed call - the ball hitting Jon Jay - last night because he couldn't see it from the dugout, and thought that Dewey was yapping about whether or not the batter swung at the pitch. He didn't realize it hit the batter until he went over the game films.

-- The Mariners won today; that guarantees the Pirates the first pick in the 2011 draft.

-- The Reds clinched the Central Division with a 3-2 win over the Astros. Cincy's magic number was one, so St. Louis was eliminated pretty emphatically tonight.

-- The Rays and Yankees also earned playoff spots, though the division crown is still undecided.

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