Monday, April 18, 2011

Bucs Romp

Hey, can't say the Bucs haven't been getting off to good starts lately. Pittsburgh jumped on Travis Wood and the Reds for a three-spot in the opening frame tonight.

It wasn't via the longball like yesterday, but was almost as effective. A walk and four singles brought home the runs, with Neil Walker, Steve Pearce & Chris Snyder getting the RBI; Jose Tabata, Matt Diaz and Walker scored. Wood used 42 pitches to get through the frame.

Cincy got an ugly run back in the second. Scott Rolen led off with a ground rule double, and came around on a passed ball and throwing error by Pearce to tighten the score up at 3-1. The Reds made a little noise in the third, when Kevin Correia walked back-to-back batters with two away, but he got Rolen on a grounder to strand them.

Snyder and Ronny Cedeno began the fourth with ground ball singles, and Correia bunted them over. Wood fell behind McCutch 2-0 working him inside, and the third pitch was roped into left for a two-run double, and that brought on a new pitcher, Jordan Smith.

He K'd Tabata on three pitches, but Diaz took his next delivery the other way for an RBI knock. Walker came back from a 1-2 hole to draw a walk. After looking at a two-strike change up that barely missed, Pearce singled Diaz home. Lyle Overbay kept the parade going with an RBI two-bagger to left; Pearce had to hold at third as Walker came around.

A grounder to third ended the inning, but it was a good one, and the Pirates were up 8-1. And how often do the visiting Pirates chase the opponent's faithful out off their park after just 3-1/2 innings?

After a 1-2-3 Red fourth, Dusty Baker brought Matt Maloney in to stem the Black and Yellow tide. Without a ball being hit hard, he got into quick trouble when Cedeno and Tabata legged out infield singles, sandwiched around a walk and sac bunt, to load the bases with one away.

Maloney didn't help his own cause when he plunked Diaz on a 1-2 pitch to plate another run. But he escaped a big hurt when Walker banged into a 1-2-3 DP to end the frame. Correia tossed another 1-2-3 frame, and was sitting at 72 pitches after five.

The change-up baffled the Bucs in the sixth; Maloney struck out the side, though he yielded another infield single. But after six, every Buc position player had reached base at least twice (Tabata was aboard three times), and they all either scored or had an RBI. And Correia has been untouchable; he mowed the Reds down again in the sixth, and had surrendered just one hit over that span.

Maloney and Correia exchanged clean performances in the seventh, and Nick Masset took over in the eighth. The Bucs almost added on when with the bases loaded, Cedeno lined a shot, but right at SS Paul Janish. Correia kept dealing; a two-out single by Janish broke his streak of 15 consecutive outs.

Baker threw Aroldis Chapman on the hill in the ninth; he K'd a pair and lit up the gun at 100+ every other pitch (Great America registered one pitch at 106 MPH;'s radar had it at 102. Either way, some serious heat). But Kevin Correia was the story. Even though he gave up a two-run, two-out dinger in the ninth to Chris Heisey on a curve down the middle, he picked up the bullpen with his yeoman job.

And they were badly in need of a day off; Correia went all nine innings while J-Mac and Jeff Karstens together only lasted 8-2/3 in the two prior games.

Correia's final game line was nine innings worked, giving up three runs (two earned) on four hits, with two walks and five K's, tossing 109 pitches. His season line is 3-1 with a 2.48 ERA, a great start for the free agent pick-up.

The Buc bats made it easy; they banged out 15 hits and drew five more walks, while going a sizzling 8-for-16 with RISP. It was a true team win tonight.

And amazingly, it was their third straight road series win; the Pirates are 7-3 as road warriors and .500 on the year. Let's hope they can keep the mojo going tomorrow night as they visit Florida, with Paul Maholm going against Josh Johnson.

-- Correia joined Charlie Morton in pitching a complete game against the Reds during this series. They had just one in all of 2010, by Paul Maholm, who shut out the Astros in July.

-- Steve Pearce collected his first two RBI of the season tonight.

-- A funny moment in the first. When Matt Diaz batted, the scoreboard showed John Bowker's picture. The Cincy staff then stuck up a new image - that of Argenis Diaz, who isn't with the team any more. The third time proved the charm.

-- If Ross Ohlendorf is still a month away from pitching, as the righty told Rob Biertempfel of the Tribune Review, why isn't he retro'ed to the 60-day DL (he hurt his shoulder April 8th) and Brian Burres or Brad Lincoln added to the rotation? It would open a spot on the 40-man, fill the fifth spot with a full-time starter, and allow Jeff Karstens to return to the pen.

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