Saturday, April 30, 2011

Rocky Mountain Low; Bucs Fall 4-1

McCutch got the Bucs off on the fast track against Jason Hammel when he lined a rocket out of the deepest part of Coors Field, his second in two nights and eighth as a leadoff man.

The lead lasted a frame. Paul Maholm continued to have his early inning, bottom of ther order problems in the second. Carlos Gonzalez doubled of the wall, the ball barely eluding Matt Diaz's glove (Jose Tabata appeared to tweak his hammy running out a ball in the first).

Then a bunt single and swinging bunt hit brought in a run. Pedro was a couple steps behind the bag and never had a play on either ball; the first was against Jose Lopez, who was hitting .152, and the next against Seth Smith, a lefty. His positioning was a little iffy, given the hitters, but apparently to the bench's liking.

Smith's bleeder brought in a run, and the eight hitter, Chris Iannetti, a sub-.200 hitter, got ahead of Maholm 3-1, and was fed an 88 MPH heater right down the middle; he went yard and it was 4-1.

The Pirates tried to chip away, but left runners at third in both the third and fourth frames. In the fifth, they had a pair aboard with one out, but Diaz bounced into a 6-4-3 DP. Their frustrations continued in the sixth.

Garrett Jones smacked a ball up the middle, right into the teeth of a shift. Neil Walker lined a single to right. Lyle Overbay smoked one up the line, and Todd Helton picked it just inside the bag and turned it into another inning-killing DP. Same song in the seventh - Chris Snyder walked to start the frame, and Pedro grounded into a nicely turned 3-6-3 DP.

Both starters left after seven. Maholm did a good job of keeping it together after that disastrous fourth, giving up the four runs on seven hits with three walks and K's.

The Bucs didn't do much better in the eighth. No DP, but that's because there weren't any baserunners. All three hitters went 3-2 against Rafael Betencourt, and all three bounced out, although it took 28 pitches to eventually retire the side.

Danny Moskos made his MLB debut and put down the Rox 1-2-3, although the last ball was sent to the warning track. He used the slider as his primary weapon, mixing in the heater (91-92 MPH, as advertised).

Huston Street put away the Bucs, giving up a Jones single, and earned his NL-leading 10th save. For the Bucs, it was another anemic offensive effort - they had seven hits, and hit into 3 DPs while going 0-for-6 with RISP.

Part of the Pirate problem was the Rox defense; Todd Helton made a couple of outstanding stops to turn doubles into outs, and Troy Tulowitzki made every play, no matter how challenging, look easy.

The other part, of course, is that six of the eight starters are hitting .265 or less; four are hitting .223 or under. As a result, Pittsburgh has scored 13 runs this week, two per game, and no more than three in any one game.

Maholm, for example, has been given nine runs to work with in six starts. Sandy Koufax would have a hard time with that kind of support.

Charlie Morton pitches the rubber match against Ubaldo Jimenez tomorrow.

-- Jen Langosch of reports that "Clint Hurdle said the Pirates will give Jose Tabata “a couple of days” to try and alleviate the right hamstring tightness that forced Tabata out of Saturday’s game."

-- McCutch played a nice game tonight, ripping the ball three times in his four at-bats and making a nice running grab in center.

-- Evan Meek will have a precautionary MRI on his shoulder next week. He hopes just rest will cure the inflammation and weakness (officially, he's suffering from tendinitis), and that he'll be back as soon as he's eligible on May 12th.

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