Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Dewey Slam Leads Bucs To 7-4 Win In SD

The first inning started off pedestrian enough; the Bucs went down in order against Clayton Richard and the Padres wrangled a walk off Kevin Correia. The second had a little more sizzle.

The Pirates drew first blood with hardly a ball rolling beyond the dirt. Neil Walker drew a walk and so did Dewey after a pop-up. The Pittsburgh Kid stole third, and it paid off when Brandon Wood beat out a potential DP bleeder to bring Walker home. It could have been more, but Cameron Maybin made a nice running grab of a rope into center off Ronny Cedeno's bat.

Correia walked another guy with one away in the second, but a 6-4-3 twin killing cleaned that up. The Bucs, with a big assist from the Friars, were about to ice the game.

The third started off quiet as a mouse when Correia struck out. McCutch lined a single into center, and the fun was about to begin.

Xavier Paul laid down a bunt. Catcher Nick Hundley tried for the force at second, but his throw was off-line and McCutchen beat the rap. The bases were juiced when Matt Diaz's ball was grounded to third and booted; this time Chase Headley couldn't handle the biscuit.

Walker lined a two-run knock into center and Pearce walked to load the sacks again. Ryan Doumit worked the count full, got a fastball and drove it out of the deepest part of PETCO in left center for a grand salami. Three hits, six often does that happen?

The Padres got a run back in the fourth on a triple and ground out. Then both teams sat on their bats until the seventh, when a leadoff single followed by an RBI double chased Correia. He went six frames, giving up two runs on five hits with two walks and three K's, another workmanlike outing for the righty. Chris Resop took over and shut down the Padres.

Pittsburgh tried to get some runs back in the eighth when they loaded the bases with one out, but Ernesto Frieri, who couldn't find the dish last time out, whiffed McCutch and Paul; the X-Man went down after a nine-pitch battle. Daniel McCutchen continued his solid work, holding SD to a two-out single.

The Bucs went down in order in the ninth, and Jose Veras took the ball to finish up. He might have been a little too much in a hurry to hit the post-game buffet. Veras gave the first three hitters heaters down the middle; one ended up in Xavier Paul's mitt and the other two ended up in the stands.

Then he went 3-0 on Rob Johnson before coming back to K him on a curve. A walk put the tying run in the hole, but Veras got Wil Venable to fly out to the warning track, and the Bucs notched yet another road series win, their fifth, already topping last year's season total of four.

The Buc offense put up plenty of runs against the Padres tough pitching staff, though the key in San Diego wasn't a steady attack but piling up big innings; Pittsburgh scored three or more runs in a frame during each game, and those three innings accounted for thirteen of their sixteen runs.

When and if they start to get consistent both at the plate (11 Ks today; that's a lot of empty outs) and on the bases (they're developing the right mindset on the base paths, but need to temper their enthusiasm some) often enough to tack some one and two run innings on the board, this could become an interesting attack.

The Bucs are off tomorrow. They start a homestand against Houston and then the Dodgers on Friday.

-- One reason the road warriors have suddenly developed fangs: Kevin Correia is the first Pirates pitcher to win his first five road starts since Don Robinson in 1982.

-- We think that if Ohlie came back tomorrow, Mike Crotta, not Daniel McCutchen or Daniel Moskos, would be the odd man out. Moskos hasn't been thrown in the fire yet, but keeping a second lefty has to be tempting.

And McCutchen has been steady and solid since his call up. In twelve innings, he's yet to give up a run and has surrendered just seven hits. His secret? His control, highly touted in the minors, has been superb this season; he's walked just two batters with a 92/42 strike-to-ball ratio in 2011.

McC has also altered his pitching playlist a little; he's using more sinker action and less of his slider. It shows in his GB/FB ratio. He's gotten 19 ground outs to 12 fly outs, the first time in three Pirate seasons that he's gotten 50%+ of his outs on the ground.

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