Friday, June 24, 2011

Bucs Bend But Don't Break; Win 3-1

Whatta zoo in town. Workers heading to their favorite watering holes, Bucco fans and the Red Sox Nation streaming to PNC Park, and Furries sniffing Golden Triangle hydrants while God decides whether or not to rain on the whole TGIF scene. Great day for the Buccos and Bosox to get it on, no? 

Paul Maholm started off by nibbling; he lost Jacoby Ellersby and went 3-2 on Dusty Pedroia before he flew out in front of the Clemente Wall. Adrian Gonzalez saw three straight sliders on the outside half of the plate; he lined the third one into right to put runners on the corners. A bounce out to third by Kevin Youkilis brought home Ellersby. The Bucs went down in order. After one, it was 1-0 big boys.

After an out in the second, Jason Varitek singled to right; he got a bit greedy and was thrown out at second by Matt Diaz. The Bucs again went down in order.

The third was scary. After a pair of lineouts to Jose Tabata, the Bosox followed with a pair of roped singles to left. A walk loaded the sacks. Maholm escaped when Darnell McDonald grounded one to third; Chase d'Arnaud stepped on the bag, and that was that..whew! But Maholm is up to 56 pitches.

Ronny Cedeno bunted for a base hit - we don't know if Clint Hurdle was happy or sad over that - and Mike McKenry dropped a double to right to put runners on second and third. Maholm walked on a 3-2 pitch, and they were juiced. JT followed with a poorly played chopper to third for an infield knock and it was tied. Who needs line drives?

d'Arnaud picked up the Bucco MO quickly; he rolled a changeup softly up the middle for a 6-3 DP, scoring the go-ahead run. McCutch got plunked. Lester got ahead of Walker 0-2, ran the count full, and got him swinging at a heater. 2-1 Pittsburgh after three.

Maholm struck out Mike Cameron; he was up 0-2, fell to a full count, and then caught him looking; must have lulled him to sleep. After a Varitek fly out, Marco Scutaro lined a single to right. Lester hit a soft liner to Cedeno, and the fourth was safely navigated. With 72 pitches, PM needs a clean fifth if he's gonna get to the sixth.

Diaz started off the fourth by dumping a soft liner into right for a knock. lyle Overbay spanked a single to right to put runners at first and third. Cedeno had a twelve pitch at-bat; all it resulted in was a pop out. It hurt; Mckenry bounced into a 6-4-3 DP, and the Bucs blew a golden opportunity to add on. The only good news is that Lester is up to 71 pitches now.

With two outs, PM hit Gonzalez with a curve and then walked Youkilis. McDonald flew out to center, and the Bucs came to bat. With two away, d'Arnaud collected his first MLB hit, a triple up the left field line. McCutch K'ed, and the Bucs left another runner at third.

In the sixth, Cameron K'ed swinging followed by a Varitek single lined to center. That brought on Chris Resop, who had the fortune to get Scutaro to line to Cedeno for a 6-3 DP. Maholm went 5-1/3 innings, giving up a run on six hits with three walks and two K's. It was a struggle, but the results were solid.

Walker singled on a ball Youkilis couldn't handle at third; Diaz thought he'd try him out and he booted this one, to put runners at first and third. This time, the Bucs cashed in when Overbay rolled a single through the right side, bringing in Walker as Diaz stopped at second. Cedeno bunted again - this one was probably called from the bench - and Diaz was forced at third. McKenry hacked away; it took ten pitches, but Lester finally whiffed him swinging. Brandon Wood grabbed a stick and grounded out to third.

Tony Watson took over. Pinch hitter Josh Reddick banged a single through the right side to lead things off. After an out, Pedroia drew an eight pitch walk. In a nicely thrown sequence, Watson got ahead of Gonzalez 0-2 and got him to pop foul to McKenry. Hurdle called on Daniel McCutchen to face Youkilis. Good choice; D-Mac struck him out swinging to the accompaniment of mock "Yoooook" chants from the Bucco faithful . Six outs to go.

Righty Matt Albers took the hill for the Red Sox. JT got a belt high heater on the inside corner on a 3-2 pitch and lined into left for a leadoff knock. Playing Hurdle ball, d'Arnaud bunted Tabata to second. McCutch got ahead 2-0 and whacked a fastball, but it was caught on the track in right. Tom Hottovy came on the face The Pittsburgh Kid, who flew out to left.

Jose Veras took command in the eighth. McDonald dumped a soft single into center, and JD Drew rolled a single into right.Varitek bunted them over a station. Scutaro whiffed on a nasty curve that froze him. Now Terry Francona broke out his toy; Big Papi grabbed the lumber. At the same time, the rains fell from the skies. The umps said play on, and it was a good battle. JV got ahead 1-2 and fed three nasty curves that David Ortiz spoiled. He finally threw him a two-seamer, and he bounced it to short to end the inning.

The rains came to halt - thank you, baseball gods - and Dan Wheeler toed the rubber for Boston. He struck out a pair, and it was Hanny time. He faced the top of the Beantown order, and put them down 1-2-3 for save #21 and Paul Maholm's fourth win.

Hey, the Bucs had plenty of chances to blow open the game, but 2-for-12 with RISP didn't help the cause. The pitchers may have bent, but never broke. The most dramatic matchup may have been Veras and Big Papi, but the key outs were Watson getting Gonzalez to pop out and Veras K'ing Scutaro, both with runners and second and third and just one out. Good stuff by the Bucco bullpen tonight.

Tim Wakefield takes on Jeff Karstens tomorrow.

  • Pittsburgh drew 39,330 fans tonight, their fifth sell-out of the season
  • The good news: being an NL game, the Bosox DH, Big Papi David Ortiz, is sitting today.
  • Not so good news...Kristy Robinson of Ohio Valley Athletics writes that "A source told me that (Evan) Meek is in Bradenton but not currently throwing." What is it about these minor injuries that take half a season to heal?
  • The Pirates have DFA'ed LHP Aaron Thompson to clear a spot for Chase d’Arnaud on the 40-man roster, say the beat gang. Thompson was 3-6 with a 4.97 ERA in 12 starts for Altoona.
  • Speaking of d'Arnaud, Jen Langosch of reports that "d’Arnaud played third extensively in college and is very comfortable there. I anticipate he will be the Pirates’ primary third baseman, ahead of Brandon Wood." So much for putting pressure on Ronny Cedeno, at least for the short term.
  • The Bucs added two pitchers today. They reacquired RHP Steven Jackson from the Reds organization for a PTBNL after releasing him during the off season. The Pirates also signed 23rd round draft pick RHP Jordan Cooper of Kentucky, a guy they originally selected as a preppy in 2009.
  • LHP Rudy Owens hasn't had a tough enough year at Indy (6-5, 5.33 ERA). Now he's on the DL after taking a come-backer off his thumb earlier in the week. The good news is that he's expected back soon; it was just a bruise. Minor league DLs can last as little as seven days, so it's possible he'll just miss tomorrow's start if it's retroactive to the day of the injury, which was Monday.

No comments: