Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Florida Sinks Pirates 6-0

Pretty easy pair of story lines: Josh Johnson dominated the Pirates, and Paul Maholm/Mike Crotta combined to allow five two-out runs. As a result, the Fish took an easy 6-0 win over the Bucs.

It started in the second. With two out and the bases empty, Maholm hit Mike Stanton with a pitch. Then PM knocked down a liner back to box, but it kicked far enough away to go for a single. The eight hitter, Emilio Bonifacio, slapped a ground ball single to load the sacks.

The killer shot was delivered by the pitcher, Johnson, who lined a knock into right for two RBI. So the bottom of the order hung a deuce on Maholm, even being spotted a pair of outs.

In the fourth, the horses left the corral. A pair of lead-off doubles brought in a run. A single, sac bunt, and walk loaded them.

It looked for the moment as if Maholm might wiggle out of it after striking out Omar Infante. But the inning unraveled when he walked Hanley Ramirez on five pitches to bring in another run.

Mike Crotta came on, and Gaby Sanchez dropped a soft single in front of McCutch as two more Fish swam home. It was 6-0 Marlins, and that's all she wrote with Josh Johnson dealing.

Crotta, Daniel McCutchen and Joe Beimel shut the door after that, but it was too little, too late.

The Bucs didn't get their first hit until Garrett Jones led of the fifth with a single; a Dewey whiff and Pedro 3-6-1 DP took care of that. John Bowker got a one-away pinch single in the sixth; McCutch banged into a DP.

Johnson went seven innings, giving up two hits, one walk, and striking out nine (and that's following a one-hitter thrown during his last outing; he's 3-0/1.00). The Marlin bullpen nailed it down for him, K'ing three of the final six Buccos. The Pirates left just one runner on base all night.

For Pittsburgh, it's been feast or famine from the starters. They got two complete game gems against the Reds, with two 4-1/3 inning starts sandwiched between. Today was another of the famine outings; Maholm lasted 3-2/3 innings, giving up six runs on seven hits with three walks, a hit batter, and four Ks.

More disappointing was that he allowed the bottom of the order to beat him, finishing the second inning and priming the fourth. The first six hitters had two hits off Maholm; the bottom three batters had five knocks.

GW remembers 2008-09, when the bullpen was reduced to a collection of quivering arms after covering all the innings that the starters left unfinished; it happened to a lesser degree last year. Let's hope this is just a rough stretch the guys are going through, because we all know how ugly it can get when short starts become the norm.

Charlie Morton will take on Ricky Nolasco in the middle game tomorrow night.

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